Local attorney Dan Stewart helps community show support for law enforcement with free meal at Firehouse subs for Pace area deputies and a poster for the public to sign.

With several stories in the national media regarding police violence, a local attorney decided Santa RosaCounty law enforcement needed to know how our citizens really feel.

Attorney Dan Stewart hosted an appreciation event Tuesday at Firehouse Subs in Pace from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. He said he sees it as a kickoff for regularly occurring events, showing thanks and fostering communication between law enforcement and the public. While deputies in the Pace area had lunch, courtesy of the attorney, the visitors and employees of Firehouse Subs had an opportunity to sign a poster thanking all law enforcement. Stewart himself presented the poster to Major Bob Johnson at the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office Pace annex Thursday morning. This first event is for the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office, he said, but would like to see it spread to support the fire and police departments in Milton, Jay, Navarre, and Gulf Breeze.

Stewart said, "The plan is, this is the first one, but it's also a challenge to other businesses and communities throughout the county to do the same thing on a regular basis...If someone wants to know what we think about law enforcement in Santa RosaCounty, there won't be a question." Stewart said this will be an opportunity for both law enforcement and the public to get to know each other face-to-face.

Alice Bell posed for photos with several of the deputies who stopped by for a meal. She said, “We need to give back because of what they do for us.”

Major Bob Johnson said, “The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Dan Stewart and all the people for doing this. Law enforcement is under attack.” He said, with this event, “the guys feel appreciated. It’s another way the community loves us in doing the job we do in such a great place.”

Aloy said, “I don’t think you realize the impact (this has)…The replies I get (through social media, emails, and calls) keep me motivated when the media makes us look bad.”

Stewart said he’s already been contacted by other businesses interested in his efforts. He already has business partners in the wings for an event in November and December.