In 2006, Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Jeff Jensen lost is brother.
“Jared was a detective with our narcotics bureau here in Colorado Springs,” Lt Jensen told me over the phone. “He was killed in the line of duty trying to arrest a person who had repeatedly stabbed his own sister. When Jared went to make the arrest he was shot and killed by the suspect.”
Jared’s death was devastating for Jeff and his young son Kyle. In honor of his uncle, Kyle started a patch collection.
“When we went to Jared’s service, officers came from all over the state and even beyond and started handing him their patches at the service. When we went to Washington DC for the national memorial, a lot of officers handed him patches.”
But this summer, tragedy once again hit the Jensen family.
“We ended up having a large wildfire, called the Black Forest Fire. During that fire over 500 families lost their homes. Unfortunately we were one of those families.”
They lost everything, including 15-year-old Kyle’s 400 patches.
“We had gone through and were thinking of all the things that we had lost and all of a sudden I realized that I had lost my patch collection,” Kyle said. “It hit me really hard.”
So his dad went on Facebook and sent a couple of messages to his law enforcement buddies, asking if they could drum up a few patches to start a new collection for Kyle.
“Literally, I just sent it out to a couple people and it just snowballed to the point that officers and agents throughout the world had mailed patches,” said Lt. Jensen.
Law enforcement in Washington state got wind of the patch predicament, and students at the Police Academy in Burien decided to make this their senior project. Olympia Police Officer George Clark says they reached out to the state’s 230 agencies to collect patches.
“We had the chiefs of the Evergreen State College Police Department and the chief of Roy donate their personal patch collections that they’ve been collecting for years, they believed so much in this cause. [We] were able to compile all these patches together and send them to Colorado to get delivered personally.”
A King County Sheriff’s officer happened to be going on vacation in Colorado, so she offered to hand deliver more than 550 patches to the Jensen’s home. Kyle was in disbelief.
“It’s amazing,” Kyle said. “I’ve gotten teared up a lot about it, going through these patches and just thinking that so much meaning can come out of this piece of cloth and that so many people cared enough to send me something.”
George says the project is a symbol of what he hopes to achieve as a new police officer.
“Not only just give him something that he had lost but really to show that this is what we want to be, not only in our professions, but as people. When we show up, people are having a rough time. We want to make sure we are there and we help them in any way that we can to get them back on track.”
The kindness of these law enforcement officers was not lost on Kyle.
“It definitely impacted the way I felt about everything. How everyone has at least a little bit of kindness in their hearts just to do something small. It will mean so much more to someone else.”