Neighborhood goes BLUE for Brandon’s BLUE

Jill Meier, Journal editor

Residents of a westside neighborhood in Brandon joined forces to show support for local law enforcement by going blue for Brandon’s blue. Residents switched out their usual white-colored light bulbs for blue bulbs. Last week, Officers Dan Francis and Alex Palmer joined them for a group photo.

On the heels of numerous protests against police brutality against Black people and minority communities throughout the nation – including a protest in Sioux Falls earlier this year – a Brandon neighborhood is displaying their support for local law enforcement by going blue.

Last month, Brandon Realtor Michael Gross, who lives on Creekside Drive, “challenged” homeowners in the housing development to go blue for Brandon’s blue. Gross asked his neighbors to switch out their usual white colored porch lights with blue light bulbs. After seeing the kind gesture shared on Facebook by other communities across the U.S., Gross was confident the neighborhood would step up to the “challenge.”

“We’re doing it just to say that we appreciate our police department and everything they do for us,” Gross said. “We have some of the best police officers around and we have one of the safest towns around, and our officer do a great job to make sure we stay safe and protected.”

The blue lights first lit up on Aug. 16 and Gross asked his neighbors to continue the respectful gesture for a full week.

Leading up to night one, Gross remained confident that his neighbors were up to the “challenge.”

“We have a really great neighborhood,” he said. “There’s only one entrance in, so it’s pretty much a private neighborhood and we all watch out for each other.”

It was about two years ago that Kaylena Riendeau and her family moved to the west-side neighborhood, which also includes homes along Meadowbrook Trail and Sandstone Ave. The mental health therapist said the blue lights mean a lot to her.

“I work with clients in Minnesota and I work really closely with law enforcement,” she said, “so it just really tears me apart when I see people don’t respect law enforcement for all they do. Every time that I’ve ever needed an officer, they are there.”

Like the day her 3-year-old was throwing a tantrum on the sidewalk while on a walk with her grandmother.

“Of course, a Brandon officer just happened to be patrolling our neighborhood that day, and he pulled over and he’s like, ‘Hey, m’am, do you need any help?’ And she’s like, ‘My granddaughter is just throwing a tantrum,’ and he goes, ‘Been there, done that,’ so, it’s always been great experiences and we just really respect our police department and all they do for us to keep us safe,” she shared.

While on patrol last week, the blue lights caught the eye of Brandon officer Alex Palmer who couldn’t help but Snapchat a video of the neighborhood’s blue porch lights.

“I saw all the lights on and thought it was kind of cool with everything that is going on in today’s times,” said Palmer who is now in his 14th with the department. “We actually have a community that supports the police rather than trying to ban the police, abolish the police or defund the police. I mean, it’s great to have community support.”

Palmer recalled a time when the city council was considering eliminating the local police department and contracting with the county for its law enforcement needs.

“I think that was the most upset I’ve ever seen the community and the city council meeting was pretty overwhelming with the amount of people that showed up to support us, so yeah, it means a lot,” he added.

Officer Andrew Nygaard echoed Palmer’s comments.

“It’s nice to see citizens understand the hardships that law enforcement in general is going through,” he said.

Josh Fales moved his family to the westside development last September so his kids could live in a neighborhood filled with kids. He, too, has a deep respect for all the divisions of law enforcement, especially coming from a military and law enforcement family background.

“We’re very, very patriotic,” he said. “My father-in-law – before he passed away – was an MP, a state trooper, a sheriff and a local police officer in Alabama, so it’s been very disheartening to see what’s going on, but at the same time, people need to realize that they’re not all bad. They need to think a little bit deeper of that officer as an individual and realize he’s no different than the doctor or the nurse or the journalist that goes into dangerous situations; they all want to get home safe,” he said.

Fales’ oldest son, who wants nothing more than to become a policeman one day, has been “adopted” by the local department. 

“They always talk to him. They know who he is and even gave him a Brandon PD patch,” adds Fales.

Fales said there was no hesitation in going blue for Brandon’s blue.

“It really means a lot to realize that everybody is standing behind our police officers knowing that we’re fortunate to have good police officers in our town,” he said. 

Where he did struggle, however, was converting his LED floodlights to a blue hue.

“They’re plastic lenses and you can’t change the bulbs,” he said. “I had to make them blue somehow, so I looked over on my shelves and seen painters’ tape and went, ‘Done.’”

Nine-year-old Reed Johnson shared he also has great respect for Brandon police.

“I think they’re just awesome. I ride my bike around and I wear my helmet, so if the police are patrolling, they’ll stop and give me a free ice cream ticket,” he said.

As excited as he is for the ice cream ticket, Johnson also thinks the blue porch lights throughout his neighborhood are equally awesome.
“It kind of brings us all together, and it really supports our police department,” he said.



The Brandon Valley Journal


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