MOUNTY HOLLY, N.C. — The devastating death of police officer Tyler Herndon still haunts the Mount Holly community.
It’s hard to miss the signs and blue ribbons that adorn front yards and the police department, placed to remember the 25-year-old who was killed in the line of duty in December.
“Everyone around here was so sad and felt such a loss. It was one of the worst days we could imagine,” said Matt Autry.
Autry, a firefighter, along with his mother, decided to give back in Herndon’s name to help their neighbors grieve. They created the “Tyler Herndon Adopt an Officer Program” a few weeks ago, first posting on social media.
The officer receives a short questionnaire about their favorite things, including hobbies, foods and favorite color. The families then give small tokens of appreciation throughout the year.
There’s so much interest, Autry can hardly keep up.
“It’s gotta start somewhere, so if it starts in Mount Holly and spreads, that’s great,” he told Channel 9.
Families have already adopted more than half the officers at the Mount Holly Police Department. The program is expanding to more than half a dozen nearby departments.
“Once we saw it, we knew immediately that was something that our family would love to join,” said Lauren Shawl.
She and her family just adopted a Cramerton police officer last week. They made a gift basket based on that survey, filled with snacks and other items.
Within no time at all, the Shawls already had a response from the officer.
“It said, ‘I’m looking forward to meeting you all and getting to know you. I will be putting all these items to use right away,’” Shawl said. “It just warms my heart to know that we’ve made this connection.”
The bigger goal of the program is to build relationships between neighbors and the officers who protect them.
The Shawls are organizing a monthly meetup to connect with their officer.
“To show him that we care and we are so appreciative of what he does for our community,” she said.
For more information, or to apply, click here.