10-year-old appreciates law enforcement officers
By Steve Sharp
JEFFERSON —Jefferson County Law Enforcement Memorial Day 2018 Thursday came with a new twist.
As is almost always the case, the weather was fantastic and the commemoration of area law enforcement lives that have been lost over the years reiterated the sometimes-tragic nature of the profession, but this year’s guest speaker was not even a member of law enforcement. He was a 10-year-old boy from Cottage Grove.
Liam Bates, who hosts the website Liamlovespolice.org told the audience gathered on the Jefferson County Courthouse’s north lawn he appreciates all that law enforcement officers from around the country do on a daily basis. In fact, Bates has taken his admiration for officers to the level that he travels the U.S. bestowing commemorative coins to honor his heroes. In the coming months he is traveling to Ireland, by way of Iceland, to do his thing in those two countries.
According to the boy’s website, in April of 2017 Liam and his dad purchased 10 St. Michael coins to give to police officers -- five to their friends who were in law enforcement and five to random police officers they found on patrol.
“Liam’s father thought this would be a good lesson to show his son he can approach the police without fear,” the website states.
The first coin they gave out was to a sergeant with the Madison Police Department. She was almost in tears she was so touched by the gift.
“It was that moment everything changed,” the boy said. “We knew what we were doing needed to continue to as many police officers as we could reach.”
As of Thursday, Bates has distributed more than 1,000 of the coins and has been recognized formally by Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimmel, among others.
“I give officers coins to show them love and respect,” he said. “I want kids my age to know police are good people with kind hearts.”
In March, Liam’s Coins for Law Enforcement officially formed a charity corporation under the name Metro Support Services. With this, he is able to continue the mission as an official operating charity.
Bates said he wants to become a law enforcement officer working in a canine unit when he is old enough.
After his remarks, Bates was presented by the Jefferson County Chiefs and Sheriffs Association with its Community Excellence Award.
“Thank you for your faithful service and heart,” Jeff Parker, chief deputy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department told Bates.
Jefferson County Judge Ben Brantmeier said he was honored to be a guest speaker at the event. He said, as a boy growing up, he was taught by his cousins in northern Wisconsin to “run from the cops” but things are different today for the man in the black robe. He said he is constantly impressed with law enforcement officers from Jefferson County, in part, because they are so involved in the community in multiple ways.
“You are inspirational,” he said. “You portray and live that positive image.”
Brantmeier said he is also inspired by the fact the people in local law enforcement are brave and when others are running from bad situations, they run into the fray.
“I wouldn’t want to be going into a building not knowing what’s behind that next door,” he said. “Hats off to you and your families ... Keep up the bravery.”