Port Arthur’s Finest recognized by the community in prayer

Published 2:28 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Members of the local community came together to honor Port Arthur’s finest for their work and dedication to the city.

The second annual See You At The Station was held Wednesday morning in front of the Port Arthur Police Department. Residents, churchgoers and Port Arthur officials were on hand to recognize the duties of Port Arthur PD and to pray over them.

Marlaina Shields, host of the Port Arthur event, began the service by calling to attention the origins of SYATS, which was also celebrated in other cities and counties in the state.

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“It started last year in Texas by Beth Armstrong. She felt compelled to do something for the police.”

Shields expressed her sentiment for the city and for its law enforcement.

“Port Arthur is a great city. I have a love for Port Arthur, but I know it’s not perfect… If it wasn’t for the police officers, if it wasn’t for our Heavenly Father, I wouldn’t be here.”

Shields was optimistic about the gathering as well, saying, “If people came together, we can change things.”

Daren Hearnsberger, pastor at Triumph Church in Nederland, followed up with supportive words for the officers.

“It is our honor to stand here and to say we respect you,” Hearnsberger said. “All the negative reports you hear [in the media] are not the majority.”

The Nederland pastor discussed the dangers that police regularly find themselves in and how he was grateful that he did not have to face those dangers himself.

“I appreciate you stepping into a place where I’m very weak,” Hearnsberger said.

“You’ve got churches praying for you, citizens praying for you… you have got a support group named the American Citizen.

“We respect and appreciate you.”

In speaking about the origins of the event, Shields said, “When she [Armstrong] posted it on Facebook, it spread like wildfire.”

Shields thought it was the kind of community gathering that could make a positive difference for everyone involved.

“I’m hoping it brings unity and an open community,” Shields said. “I feel that there’s a gap between the community and the police, so I hope that this will bring them together.”

And despite national coverage in the media where certain police departments were portrayed in a critical light, Shields felt “That this lets them [PAPD] know we’re for them and not against them.”

Hearnsberger agreed, citing a media that was too focused on the negative to see the positive.

“There’s no reason for the media to always portray them [the police] so negatively,” the pastor said. “There’s still a huge majority who loves and respects them.”

The Nederland pastor felt that community recognition was important to the officers.

“It’s the second year to come together and pray over the police department,” Hearnsberger said. “I believe they need to hear constantly how they’re loved and respected.”

Hearnsberger attributed many talents to the typical police officer, describing them as “multi-talented people who must be many things to many people, including counselors, medics, life-savers and peace keepers.”

Among the officers present, Rickey Antoine, PAPD traffic enforcement officer, was grateful for the show of support.

“I think it’s a wonderful time,” Antoine said. “We provide so much service for the Port Arthur [community] and then it means so much when they come back and provide service for us.”

Antoine thought that it was “great that they show their love for law enforcement like this.”

“I’m both humbled and honored at their support,” Antoine said. “We’re thankful.”

Antoine was not the only officer present who was appreciative of the community prayer event.

“It’s very uplifting,” Sergeant Jeff Smith said. “We see so much bad in the world that it’s good to be around normal people doing good in the community.”

Officer Jennifer Simmons agreed.

“It’s a good, warm feeling to know they care.”