Badges Across America made a stop in Crete July 16 through July 30.
Badges Across America is a non-profit organization created in April 2019 and run by husband and wife Charlie and Tricia Simmons of Golden, Colorado.
The Simmonses travel to police agencies and set up free photography sessions with the officers and deputies. Charlie also goes on ride alongs with those on duty to get live action photos.
Charlie is a retired sergeant from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado. In his 27 years of service he realized he did not have many photos of himself on the job and wanted his fellow officers to have some.
“Photography had been a hobby of mine for years so I decided to start carrying my camera on shift and when the situation allowed for it. I could capture those moments of my fellow deputies doing their jobs. I had found my passions - law enforcement and photography,” Simmons said on his website.
He started sharing the photos he had taken and “it just kind of went crazy,” Simmons said.
After he released his photos he received compliments and was asked to come photograph other teams.
He has done a K-9 training team and SWAT as well as a motorcycle unit. He made photo montage videos to share.
When he left the agency, he left them with 4,200 images which are used often.
When he retired, his initial plan was to do “work camping” where he would live in an RV park, meet local law enforcement and offer his services to them. After more people realized what he was doing, he was told to take this bigger and do this all the time. They did this by adding stories about the officers to go along with the photos to upload to their website and share with the public.
“We had a retired dispatcher that we interviewed and her husband is a sergeant so therefore she is dispatching her spouse. For us, it was kind of intriguing that idea of ‘what was that like sending her husband into potential danger.’ She dispatched Columbine and so having those conversations, it’s really heartwarming,” Tricia Simmons said.
“The stories help to make them more relatable.”
Charlie was in law enforcement for 27 years and Tricia is a meeting and event planner. A big learning curve for them has been social media. Charlie built their website and Instagram and Tricia runs the Facebook page.
They started in Oregon because their son was living there and they did a lot of outreach and research with introductions of who they are and follow-up calls to see if agencies were interested in what they could provide.
“It’s a new concept to people,” Charlie said.
He offers everything from headshots and portraits to team photos and action shots.
“I am willing and excited to do anything. I love, obviously, the action, I like the portrait and the fun stuff,” he said.
The Crete Police Department was the first agency to reach out to them. Officer Audrey Arbuckle found them and invited them.
The photos Charlie takes can be used in training materials, social media, wall portraits, distribution to employees, websites or however the agency chooses to use them.
To learn more about the Simmonses and Badges Across America, visit badgesacrossamerica.org or follow their Facebook page Badges Across America.