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Operation Thank an Officer: Brainerd police thanked

Brainerd police officers were thanked for their service Friday, as National Police Week came to an end. Liz Gerads, a wife of a Wright County deputy, has been busy in the past weeks distributing thank-you notes and cards to law enforcement office...

Four-year-old Genevieve Gerads listens Friday morning as Brainerd Police Officer Rachel Boggs reads a personal card thanking her for being a police officer as part of Operation Thank a Cop. The program is a Minnesota-based program thanking law enforcement personnel for their work during National Police Week. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
Four-year-old Genevieve Gerads listens Friday morning as Brainerd Police Officer Rachel Boggs reads a personal card thanking her for being a police officer as part of Operation Thank a Cop. The program is a Minnesota-based program thanking law enforcement personnel for their work during National Police Week. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)

Brainerd police officers were thanked for their service Friday, as National Police Week came to an end.

Liz Gerads, a wife of a Wright County deputy, has been busy in the past weeks distributing thank-you notes and cards to law enforcement officers throughout Minnesota. During National Police Week, about 5,000 cards were delivered either in person or by mail.

Gerads said "Operation Thank an Officer" started as a small project where she asked area school teachers and friends to help make thank-you cards for her to distribute to officers, but the program grew to where she is receiving thousands of cards and notes.

Gerads, along with her two daughters, Genevieve, 4, and Scarlett, 15-months-old, stopped at the Brainerd Police Station to drop off a thank-you card for each officer. Police Chief Corky McQuiston, along with chief deputy Mike Bestul; investigator Craig Katzenberger; and police officers Rachel Boggs, Dan Lasher, Justin Athman and John Palcher took a few minutes with Gerads to hear about "Operation Thank an Officer."

Gerads, who was the 2007 Miss Brainerd Lakes, said she started the project in March with the goal to have 200 thank-you cards for law enforcement in Wright County. By chance, she sent an email to a radio station in the Twin Cities metro area and the news of the project spread like wildfire and she began receiving hundreds of thank-you cards in the mail for her to deliver.

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Gerads said she made it her mission to make sure every law enforcement officer received a thank-you card.

"This year more than ever, our law enforcement men and women need a pick me up," Gerads said. "Although my husband, Glenn, doesn't always admit it, I know the events of the past year including Ferguson and New York City and the loss of Officer Scott Patrick, has taken a toll on him. Not only that, it has made an already difficult job more difficult because of the current attitude towards law enforcement."

Gerads said people take time to thank the military servicemen and women and she feels law enforcement officers deserve the same respect as they put their life on the line every day.

Gerads plans to drop thank-you cards off for police officers in Crosslake, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Emily, Deerwood and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.

"It's very humbling," McQuiston said of personally receiving the thank-you cards for the officers. "This is a real thoughtful thing to do."

McQuiston said the public supports the police department most of the time and he is proud of his staff in the work they do. He said the thank-you cards will mean a lot to the officers, as police don't often receive gratitude in their line of work.

Those who want to make a thank-you card for this project can mail it to Liz Gerads, P.O. Box 92, Montrose, MN 55363.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

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