Folks who drive through downtown Kennebunk on weekday afternoons around 4:30 p.m. may see David and Patty Ferris, a local couple, urging motorists to sound their horns in support of police. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNK – Those who drive through downtown Kennebunk about  4:30 p.m. on weekdays can sometimes hear a lot of horns tooting at the Main and Summer street intersection, near Kennebunk Police Department and town hall. 

Motorists may notice a couple, one waving an American flag, the other holding a sign urging them to “Toot for Kennebunk Police.” 

And people do. A recent Tuesday, the couple said, was the biggest toot day yet. 

David and Patty Ferris have been urging folks to show their support for law enforcement since the start of the summer. 

“We stand on the corner and the horns blow and we know the police can hear it and know that someone out there cares for them,” said David Ferris. 

“They really need support,” said Patty Ferris. “We really have to let them know it. They do so much every day – the good they do people aren’t aware of.” 

“We’re just the messenger,” said Patty Ferris. “We’re trying to get the message across.”  

“We’re just the facilitator,” her husband added.  

David Ferris said coronavirus has changed the country – neighbors can’t get together, folks can’t sing in church, and there are other limitationsBut standing on the corner for 40 to 45 minutes Monday through Friday, urging people to show their support for local police, is something they can do, he said. 

Ferris, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and recipient of the Bronze Star, said he remembers well his return from overseas. 

“We were given a rough time,” he said. “It was a very difficult time when we came home. You don’t forget that.” 

He sees parallels between how he was treated upon his return the current situation with police. 

Police Chief Robert MacKenzie, who has worked for the department 32 years, 14 as chief, said he appreciates the support of the Ferrises and the drivers who toot their horns.  

“It means a great deal to me and our officers to feel supported, when it sometimes feels as though the entire country is against us,” said MacKenzie in an email. He said he and others in law enforcement spent their lives wanting to do the right thing. 

“When it feels as though the great work we have accomplished has been diminished, the people such as the Ferrises remind us we have been doing the right thing, and it is appreciated, and we are cared for,” said MacKenzie. ” I very much appreciate the Ferrises for what they do, and I appreciate anyone else who may be out there standing up for what they believe in by way of the First Amendment.” 

MacKenzie said he is honored to serve the community. 

“I still love my job and look forward to going into work every day,” he said. ” I have been witness to the tragic events across the country and I feel the same emotions we all do when we see images and hear the reports of police misconductI have and will continue to do everything in my power to have the very best law enforcement professionals in the form of recruitment, hiring and training as so we are in line with best contemporary practices.” 

MacKenzie said the department has worked to humanize the badges in hiring, conducting the Citizen’s Police Academy, providing community-oriented programs, having school resource officers who build relationships with children at a young age, helping those suffering from substance use disorder and guiding them to recovery 

“We want our citizens to see us as fellow human beings and for our officers to treat everyone with respect and dignity,” said MacKenzie. “When the tragedies we bear witness to bring attention to law enforcement practices, we must look within and see where we have fallen short and make those corrections as so tragedies do not repeat themselves. Change is afoot and I do truly believe we will continue to do better. ”   

Kennebunk Police Detective Stephen Borst said he sees David and Patty Ferris  – and hears the horns – almost every day.  

“I know that the Kennebunk Police Department enjoys and appreciates the support from the vast majority of residents and visitorsI can honestly say that we have a great relationship with our community,” said Borst. “But it’s a great feeling to know there are people like Mr. and Mrs. Ferris who recognize our service and the sacrifices we make for the community we serveAnd for that,  they are hugely appreciated.” 

The couple, married 52 years, look forward to the time they spend on the corner. 

“We feel the police need great support today, and we’re there to do our little part,” said Patty Ferris. 

“This is the highlight of our day,” said David Ferris. “This is a way we can give, and to us life is about giving.” 

 

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