Arp woman's Facebook photo of police officers and constable helping her son goes viral

Published on Monday, 17 July 2017 17:46 - Written by LOUANNA CAMPBELL, lcampbell@tylerpaper.com

An Arp woman’s Facebook post praising area law enforcement has gone viral after it was shared more than 100,000 times.

Sherry Hillard took a photo of two Arp Police Department officers and Smith County Precinct 4’s constable when they came to her aid to help her with her son, John.

“In the last week I’ve had (six) police officers in my home because my son’s meltdowns turned to rage,” Hillard wrote in her post. “With so much negativity shown towards law enforcement lately, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show my appreciation for the empathy these officers had for my son.”

John, 17, has high-spectrum autism, and was having an episode after watching a television show. Hillard called for police assistance as she has done in the past when she was not able to calm her son.

Ms. Hillard went on to say the officers showed up and listened to her, and asked questions about her son’s condition.

When Smith County Constable Josh Joplin heard the Arp Police Department being dispatched to the Hillard home, he immediately called Officer Moon, the responding patrolman. Joplin, who previously served as an officer with the Arp Police Department, was familiar with Cody and John, Sherry Hillard’s sons.

“I have an older brother who is mentally handicapped and it takes a lot of patience and humility to calm him down,” Joplin said. “Officer Moon, Officer Reynolds and I went to the house and we tried to calm John down by talking to him and counting to 100. It worked a little, but John was still having issues because he wasn’t able to dress like Joe from the show Blue’s Clues.”

Joplin said he’s responded to the Hillard’s home and wanted to help his fellow law enforcement officers with the call.

The officers and constable decided to try to make John a replica of the shirt that the character Joe wears on the TV show Blue’s Clues. They went to Dollar General, bought a blue T-shirt and permanent markers and gave it their best effort.

Joplin said John was OK with it for a little while, but eventually caught on that the shirt wasn’t authentic and wasn’t quite like Joe’s shirt.

“Sherry is a great mom,” Joplin said. “I’ve known her since I was 16-years-old and a police explorer with the Arp Police Department.”

Ms. Hillard bought John the pants and shoes the character wears on the show but couldn’t find the shirt, according to Constable Joplin.

When Ms. Hillard came to Cutting Edge Designs, a local screen printing shop for help, store manager Sean Harman was more than willing to do what he could to get John dressed like Joe.

“She had the blue shirt and we added the stripe and the squares,” he said. “The picture Sherry posted of John wearing the shirt was just great to see. When we learned that her Facebook post got over 110,000 shares, we were so happy that the police got the recognition they deserved for their efforts.”

Arp Police Chief Craig Robinson said his officers and Joplin did just what people in Arp do for each other - they take care of each other.

The small East Texas town of about 900 people is seeing Ms. Hillard’s Facebook post of the photograph she took of the officers and the constable coloring a T-shirt on their patrol vehicle.

“This is what our community expects from us,” Robinson said. “That’s what we do. We come together as a community to help each other and take care of each other.”

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