Plant City Police Department received two special visitors who surprised the officers on Jan. 15 with a handmade statue honoring their service.
Jerry and Paula Goodrich have traveled the state presenting first responders with their meticulously hand-carved creations. This month, they decided to present PCPD with the honor.
“I’m a veteran and she’s a crossing guard with the Sheriff’s Department and our son was a Sheriff’s deputy,” Jerry Goodrich said. “What started all of this was I had a breathing problem and a few years ago, Auburndale Fire Department saved my life. It’s as simple as that. We wanted to give back and we got tired of all of the bad publicity surrounding first responders, so we decided we were going to do what we could to make a difference.”
They presented PCPD Chief Ed Duncan along with several of his team a massive PCPD plaque made of approximately 10 pounds of concrete. It’s painted black with a gold trim and Duncan said they’ll make sure it has a place of honor in the department.
Duncan and several PCPD officers spent approximately half an hour chatting with Jerry and Paula Goodrich and listening to their story. Duncan gave them a gift from PCPD as well, and then they began to investigate where the best place to display the statue would be.
“We just graciously appreciate the support they have given us,” Duncan said. “Their appreciation for what we do on a daily basis is something we do not take for granted. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the community and moments like this mean more to us than they’ll ever know. We are going to put this somewhere special. It was an unexpected and great gift.”
Paula Goodrich said they had plans to head to Orlando and Tampa after they left PCPD for similar presentations.
“When you’re in trouble, who do you call?” she asked. “You call two people: either the police department or the fire department. So we are doing this all across the state. If it’s in driving distance, we will go.”
The couple makes the massive statues at home and paints them by hand. They can make the unique badges out of a variety of materials and also frequently will handcraft dog statues to present to police and sheriff’s departments who utilize K-9 units. They also take time to honor the branches of the military as well.
“We make all of these at home,” Jerry Goodrich said. “It’s something that means a lot to us and we really hope we are able to let our first responders — our police and fire departments — as well as our military know that we appreciate what they do for us. They risk their lives for us every single day and unfortunately they are too often taken for granted. I wish a lot of people thought the same way we do. We really appreciate them and we want to make sure they know that. Today, this was a great experience. I’m so glad we were able to set this up and come out and present them with this.”
Before they left, Jerry Goodrich chatted with one of the heads of the K-9 units at PCPD and upon learning the department had several furry officers, they began to put plans in place to create a dog statue they would later bring back for PCPD to display alongside their new badge statue.