Badges Across America supported the Seward and Milford law enforcement agencies when they were asked by the Seward County Sheriff’s Office for their services.
Badges Across America is a non-profit organization created in April 2019 and is 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 and gets 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 that he did not have many photos of himself on the job and wanted his fellows 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, got 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.
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 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 page, and Tricia runs the Facebook page.
“It’s a new concept to people,” Charlie said.
He offers everything from headshots, portraits, 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 Simmonses were in Milford Aug. 23 to photograph the Milford Police Department.
“We went to a couple different areas here in the city and he took photographs of us and our patrol units,” Milford Police Chief Forrest Siebken said.
Siebken said the department has had photos taken before to document staff members and for a law enforcement booth at the Seward County Fair years ago, but he’d never been photographed quite like this.
“I think what Charlie is doing is very valuable to us and also to the public. I think it provides a face behind the badge,” Siebken said. “That shows that we’re people, too. I think it’s a very good opportunity to establish a better rapport with the community.”
“It’s been great to have them here,” Seward Sheriff’s Department Administration Captain Paul Vyhlidal said. “It’s a good thing he’s doing.”
The photos Charlie takes can be used as or for training materials, social media, wall portraits, distribution to employees, websites or however the agency chooses to use them.
Siebken said the photos of the Milford department will be shared on social media and given to the officers. Vyhlidal said they will use the photos for themselves and to make a calendar.
To learn more, visit badgesacrossamerica.org or follow them on Facebook, Badges Across America.