A word from APD Chief, Mark Scott

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

he Holiday Season is upon us and I have to say, even though November and December can be very hectic, this is truly my favorite time of the year. As I write this, I have just returned from attending the funeral for Sgt. Patrick Sondron, one of the Peach County deputies who was killed in the line of duty while answering a domestic call. As we filed into the church, I was struck by the sea of blue, brown and even red uniforms in many different hues that filled the sanctuary. There were public safety personnel from all over the United States and even Canada (those were the red uniforms).
I sat down next to a group of deputies from Lee County, our neighbor to the south, and officers from Ft. Worth, Texas, and Chicago, Illinois. We struck up a conversation while waiting for the service to begin, and the officers from out of state both shared that they were honored and awed to be there. Their departments make a point of sending representatives to the funerals of all officers who are killed feloniously in the line of duty. Though sending officers takes time, energy, and resources, the departments do it for one reason; to remind us that while we may all represent different agencies, we are all one brotherhood with a common calling to protect and serve our local communities.
The service was moving. Sgt. Sondron was only 41 years old and he leaves behind a wife and three children who clearly loved him very much. Not a lot was said about the events that cost him and Dep. Daryl Smallwood their lives, but a whole lot was said about the lives these two heroes lived and the many, many lives that they touched through their service.
As we left the church, there were hundreds of police cars, ambulances, motorcycles, and fire trucks in the procession, which easily stretched for over a mile. Perhaps the most moving part of the entire funeral, more so than even the 21-gun salute, taps, and missing man flyover at the graveside, was the people who lined the procession route. There were thousands of people standing on the side of the road, people of all ages, from all races and walks of life. Some waved flags. Some held up handmade signs expressing their sympathy and support. Some stood with their hands over their hearts. Active duty military personnel and veterans saluted. Uniformed public safety personnel stood at attention in every intersection. Others simply stood silently and watched us all go by.
I am truly thankful for this great community in which we live and for the way that you have all welcomed Julie and me. As we gather with our families to celebrate the holidays, let’s remember that we here in Americus and Sumter County are all one family and we are all in this thing called Community together. We don’t all look alike, think alike, or even agree with each other about our political or religious beliefs. What family does? But, I believe that the things that bind us together such as love for our children (and grandchildren!), and our shared desire for a joyful, healthy life, greatly outweigh the differences that tend to divide us. God bless you all. Julie and I truly hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mark Scott is the chief of the Americus Police Department