ROCKINGHAM — Local law enforcement officers were treated to a barbecue chicken cookout Wednesday at the Richmond County Airport, courtesy of Kenneth Robinette and a team of grateful volunteers.
“I’m cooking for all law enforcement today to show my appreciation for what they do each and every day,” Robinette said. “We have a lot of volunteers who’ve come out to show our support for what they do.”
On the heels of recent police-related shootings across the nation — several of which were live-streamed via social media platforms — law enforcement officers are taking fire from groups protesting what they claim are unjust acts of violence, and even racism.
“I think it’s appropriate, the times being the way they are right now, that we do show our appreciation,” Robinette said. “A lot of people take it for granted that they keep us safe. Their lives are on the line every day, and I’ve been wanting to do this for several months, but was waiting on better weather.”
Robinette said the people of Richmond County are some of the best people in the world, and that its law officers and residents can be proud of the relationship they share.
“I believe that Richmond County is ranked as being one of the top counties in the state as far as coming together to help people out,” he continued. “Anytime somebody’s house gets burned down, or someone has cancer, or really just anything, we all pull together and do what needs to be done.”
He said that some people are constantly saying they want Richmond County to be more like Charlotte or Greensboro.
“But this is a good place to raise a family,” Robinette said. “It’s a place where people care about each other and respect one another. It’s a good place to live.”
Mark Savage, who often helps Robinette with the cooking, said it was the least he could do to come out and volunteer.
“This is one event that I think is needed,” he said. “We really enjoy doing this for folks like we’ve got in our local law enforcement. We just hope people can come, have a good time, maybe relieve some stress and then go about their job. We certainly appreciate what they do for the community.”
Sheriff James E. Clemmons, Jr. said he is proud of the ladies and gentlemen on his force, and the level of professionalism they strive to maintain.
“It’s great to be sheriff in Richmond County,” he said. “We appreciate what the community does for us. Community is the most important. It’s part of what we do. They’re our most private and precious commodity, and we try to show them every day.”
Clemmons said the trust of the people his office serves is important, and building relationships with people is a priority.
“We know we’re not going to please everybody, but as long as they know when they see us coming that we’re professional, courteous, we have integrity, honesty, they know we’re going to do our jobs,” he explained. “Do they like us to do our jobs? Some people do, some people don’t. It’s the nature of the game. But for the most part, we’re going to be professional in every aspect of the game. My standards are high, and they’re going to remain high.”
By 12:45 p.m., nearly 140 meals had been served, according to Robinette and his volunteers. They hoped more law enforcement officers would come by before they closed up at 2:30 p.m.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.