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Local residents show their support for police officers

Officer Paul Young (left) and Matt Schlafer (right) stopped for free lemonade at Molly’s lemonade stand. (Submitted photo)

Hastings Police Sergeant Bryan Schowalter heard about a lemonade stand serving free lemonade to police officers just before his shift with the Hastings Police Department started. Schowalter, along with officers Paul Young and Matt Schlafer, decided to head to that intersection once their shift started. 

Schowalter said they arrived to see two little girls at a lemonade stand. They had a sign that said “Free for police officers, firefighters, EMT’s, veteran.”

“They were adorable, friendly, and they wanted to thank us which was just incredible,” Schowalter said.

Schowalter, who spoke to the mother of one of the girls, said the girls came up with the idea on their own. Six-year-old Molly Debaere said she asked her mother to get two pieces of paper from the dollar store to create the sign. She said she wanted to serve free lemonade to these particular people because they “save our lives and they help us a lot.”

After giving the officers their choice of fruit punch, lemonade or strawberry banana orange, she said she told them “thank you for saving us and taking away the bad guys.”

With the recent media attention toward police officers, Schlafer said he was quite shocked to see the gesture, but he thought it was very kind-hearted and nice.

“It means the world,” he said. “It makes you remember why you got into the job.”

Maggie Herr, a Hastings High School sophomore, also showed a gesture of support to the police officers in her neighborhood. She wrote two handwritten notes and gave them to the officers who lived nearby; she handed out one in person and the other anonymously.

“I think with all the shootings, it really just kind of gave me a perspective to show the cops that they are someone and they are respected as well,” she said.

She said she wanted to write the letters to let them know the Hastings community is not against them.

“We are a community that comes together, stays together,” Herr said.

Herr’s mother, Lana Adams-Herr, said she is not surprised by her daughter’s actions at all because she would describe her as empathetic and kind.

“What she did was a real simple and honest gesture by a 16-year-old and often times we go through our lives and don’t express to people our appreciation for what they do and I’m so proud of what she did,” Adams-Herr said.

In addition, the police department has been receiving other acts of kindness from people sending flowers to the police department, to delivering cookies, to a simple “thank you” in passing or wave as a sign of support.

On July 25, Samantha and Ryan Levine hosted an appreciation dinner at the Hastings Police Department. The dinner was open to all the police officers and staff in the building. Samantha said they received food donations from local businesses, raffle items, thank you cards from children and gift bags.

Samantha said she and Ryan decided to put the appreciation dinner together about two weeks ago because they wanted to show appreciation for the people who are always there for the community when they need help.

“We just wanted to serve them since they serve us every day,” she said.

In response to the community support they have seen in recent weeks, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office tweeted a photo on July 19 of a white board with a note thanking the community. The note read:

Members of First Judicial District and Dakota County Staff,

The Dakota County Deputies in this district have had a long and cherished relationship with the people we are sworn to protect and defend. We recognize the special nature of that relationship. It is our pleasure and our honor to serve.

Recent events have cast a negative shadow on our profession that is often palpable. We have never felt the chill of that shadow in these halls.

This week you have gone out of your way to show your appreciation, and, we assume, your confidence. We sincerely Thank You All!

With your continued support we will proudly serve you and the citizens of Dakota County in the interest of Peace and Justice.

In addition, in a July 21 press release, the Dakota County Chiefs of Police Association sent a note thanking the community with an invitation for the community to join them Aug. 2 for the annual National Night Out/Night to Unite events throughout the county (for more information about National Night Out, see the story on page 10A this week).

Local police supporters had also posted a number of signs on the fences at Todd Field last week, but the school district had to remove those. According to a letter by the school district, the signs were prohibited by a state law regarding temporary signage along a trunk highway.

“The removal of this signage, or any signage, which from time to time, is placed on the fencing at Todd Field, does not indicate disagreement with the group or cause for which it was created to promote,” the letter reads, “however, the district does need to comply with the laws of the State and is required to remove the signage regardless of the message.”

Maggie Herr’s letter to a police officer


I may not know you in person, but I don’t need to know you in person to still have respect for you. Our family always has the news on so I know what has happened lately. As a 16-year-old girl I wish I didn’t know what has been happening but I do. And today, I wanted to thank all of you guys. When I was younger I just thought cops were the bad guys you needed to stay away from or the people who pulled you over when you were speeding, but as I’ve gotten older, I have realized you do so much more. You put your own life out on the line everyday. You keep the city safe, and you protect people you don’t even know. I wanted to thank you for all you do. It’s not fair what has happened lately and it’s scary but you keep going to work even knowing it may not be safe. I may be young to fully understand but I’m proud to be an American with cops who protect all of us.

Thank you so much.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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