Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley was hoping that a diverse crowd of Madison and Morgan County citizens would attend Saturday’s Faith & Blue event at the Morgan County Public Safety Center on Monticello Road.
He got his wish.
On a day when the rain finally stopped, hundreds of men, women and children crowded the carnival atmosphere at the safety center.
With the center’s expansive front yard covered with tents from church and community groups offering games for children and information, the event also included free food, music and giveaways.
The Faith & Blue event was part of a national effort to “join your local law enforcement and members of your community for a weekend of resolution and reconciliation,” a press release from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said. “National Faith & Blue Weekend is a collaborative effort to build bridges and break biases.”
Members of all local law enforcement and emergency services were at the event and mingled with several hundred people that attended from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Markley said earlier that law enforcement in Morgan County was “very fortunate,” adding, “I think the relationship we have in our town, in our community and in our county is a good one. I realize in other areas the relationship between law enforcement and the community is not so good, but we have a community here in Morgan County that supports us very strongly.”
Morgan County Commissioner Bill Kurtz said while scanning Saturday’s large crowd that the event would “go a long way to help form a relationship between the community and police.”
Markley said Saturday’s event, which was managed by Morgan County Sheriff’s Office employees Olivia Laborn, administrative assistant; Deputy Brandy Newsom, Capt. Brandon Sellers and administrative assistant Stephanie Whitley, was an “opportunity to reinforce our relationship with the community.”
Three-year-old Nevaeh Cox reached out at the urging of Sgt. Matt Garthright, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), to feel the pelt of several animals at the DNR booth from coyotes to skunks to fox.
At the Greater Moses Baptist Church tent, church volunteer Nicole Dennis handed 6-year-old Morgan Vaughn a gift basket and a smile.
Across the yard people interacted and enjoyed the fall sunshine.
Chief Deputy Keith Howard was optimistic while watching the event play out. “With everything going on in the nation,” he said, “we think Morgan County is a good example for the rest of the nation.”
Howard said the event coordinators had reached out to faith-based groups to spread the word of the event and its purpose because those groups mirror many of the concepts the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office uses to police. “Being a house of worship initiative,” Howard said, “is perfect for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office because the sheriff’s office motto is ‘Faith, Family and Service.’”
The Faith & Blue movement was founded in October 2020, after the national spotlight fell on the tragic murder of George Floyd and other officer-involved deaths that sparked controversy and tension between local communities and police.