FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- About 100 people from across the River Valley met Friday morning (Sept. 4) at the Fort Smith Police Department, to pray over all law enforcement officers in light of recent shootings across the country.
"We need this to show that there are more supporters of our law enforcement than those against them," explained Mike Nichols, who organized the prayer service with several church leaders across the area. "We need unity and not division, and we want that for this city."
Police Chief Kevin Lindsey, Captain Levi Risely and several officers with Fort Smith Police were in the crowd. There were also deputies from the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office in attendance for the service.
"I was just overwhelmed and in awe of all of the support," Chief Lindsey said. "This all started with a phone call, yesterday afternoon. It was supposed to be just a small group, but it turned out to be much larger."
Several people, including Chief Lindsey, spoke at the event, discussing the danger law enforcement officers across the country are in.
"It's been quite troubling," Chief Lindsey said. "We mourn for the deaths of our fallen officers, all law enforcement officers across the nation. But we also understand that this is a time of opportunity and change for law enforcement. Our communities have spoken."
"There's so much negativity and negative press about our law enforcement," Nichols said. "We want them to know that we are with them and will do whatever we can do to help them and show them that we love them. We want to support them in every way we can," Nichols said.
A similar prayer vigil took place at the Van Buren Police Department at noon on Friday (Sept. 4).
"I think we are blessed to live in Van Buren, Arkansas. We don't have the same anxieties that some areas of this country do," Van Buren Police Chief Kenneth Bell said before the prayers began.
Van Buren officers and at least one Crawford County deputy stood in the middle of a circle as people prayed.
Some people attended both ceremonies.
"There's power in prayer. The Bible talks about it, and I believe in the Bible and just that when you get people together in unity and you believe for a common purpose, those powers are effective," Jon Hamby said.