Many police officers may never have a portrait taken outside of graduation from the police academy and on their retirement.
Charlie Simmons found that to be true in his lengthy career with the Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office.
But now that he is retired, he and his wife travel across the country to photograph as many police as possible as a way to celebrate law enforcement.
“I worked for 27 years with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and back in about 2011, I started taking my camera with me to work,” Simmons said. “I took photos and portraits of the officers, donating my work. Over the years I gave them about 4,200 images before I left.
“The response was pretty amazing.”
Since founding their non-profit, Badges Across America, Charlie and his wife, Trisha, travel across the country in their RV, stopping where they could find willing police departments to open their doors to them.
“Being a police officer helps. Being a retired officer helps,” Charlie said. “But not every department wants to throw their doors open wide. They are a bit cautious, a bit wary.”
Earlier this year, Charlie and his wife attended a conference at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge. While in the area, he sent notices to four or five departments, asking if they would be interested in his photo services. Only Albertville Police Department responded.
Charlie met with K9 officers Jordan Shelton and Sgt. Brandon Taylor, capturing striking photos of the men with their dogs in outdoor settings.
The photos are now part of a contest to be included in the second calendar Charlie has produced.
“While this year has been a bit, erm, different, for all of us. Charlie and I still managed to work with agencies in four states and 2021 cannot come around fast enough,” Trisha wrote on Facebook.
“Help us celebrate our LEO’s that worked through this dumpster fire of a year by voting for your favorite pics for Badges Across America’s 2021 Calendar.
Over the next two weeks, we will post a selection of pictures until we have our 12 finalists. First up for voting - K9’s and their handlers.”
The images of Albertville’s K9 officers have been posted to the APD Facebook page as well as the Badges Across America Facebook page.
Choose an image and vote for it online.
Once the images are chose, the calendar will be available for purchase. Each $25 donation will receive a calendar, Charlie said.
The striking photos were taken in downtown Albertville across the street from the police department.
Since COVID-19 struck, Charlie and Trisha have been hunkered down at their home base in Texas.
“We are going to stick here with the warmer weather,” Charlie said. “We’ve stayed busy, remodeling out house here. It was in need of some upgrades.
“We’ve been out of commission and not been taking photos lately.”
He said taking photos of police officers on the job gives him a way to say thanks.
“I just want to celebrate law enforcement,” he said.
“I want to be able to show photos of them and them doing. It is an important job they do for all of us.”