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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Sep 12

NN Police Support Houston Partners in Blue

Posted on September 12, 2017 at 10:23 AM by Communications Department

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Police Department found itself in dire need of supplies for officers who were working around the clock to help citizens and the community recover. A local news station put out the call for help, soliciting donated goods such as undershirts, underwear, and socks. Officer Jacqueline Merriman from Central Precinct was so moved and eager to help her fellow officers that she flew into action. “We all know the struggle and headache of constant 12 hour shifts or longer. Then add no power, no running clean water, and not enough rest,” she said. police houston small

Officer Merriman, with the help of many others including Officer Stevie Sturgis, Sgt. Steven Pennington, and Lt. Andrew Matthews, began a campaign to collect the needed supplies for the Houston Police Department. After a departmental e-mail push, the donations started pouring in – Newport News police officers were eager to help their partners in blue. 

The next step was to figure out how to get the supplies to the Houston officers ASAP. “I was trying to pay for shipping, but no shipping company was able to ship the items fast enough,” said Sgt. Pennington. Regular shipping would have taken weeks so the team was preparing for a road trip when Officer Merriman decided to approach Jet Blue Airlines.

She immediately established a relationship with Jet Blue who was enthusiastically willing to help and was nothing less than stellar in their efforts. Jet Blue indicated that they would take the supplies, but they could not be unaccompanied. With the support from Precinct Captain Michael Hudgins and on up the chain of command, approvals were secured for a team of officers to travel via Jet Blue airlines to Houston – at no cost to the department!

Loaded with eight duffle bags of supplies weighing over 400 lbs., Officer Merriman, Officer Sturgis, Sgt. Pennington, and Lt. Matthews boarded the plane and headed to Houston on Monday, September 4 out of Richmond. They arrived in Houston just before noon where they made contact with a Houston police officer who directed them to their headquarters. 

The team met with a crime analyst who ironically enough was from Virginia Beach, but now lives and works in Houston. She put them in contact with Officer Kiet To of the HPD. Officer To was responsible for sorting, sifting through, and allocating all donations. He was working tirelessly to make sure officers had what they needed. "We really appreciate what you guys have done for us. I never realized how big our family was and we love you guys," said Officer To. He also offered to reciprocate efforts should Newport News be affected by the next big storm – Irma. 

“The whole experience was surreal. We were all touched by the hospitality and time the department took to talk with us. There we were, from a little city far away, and they treated us as if we had been with them the whole time. This changed our lives and now we want to do even more,” added Sgt. Pennington.  
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