Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle of the Thomson Police Department enjoys helping people - whether it's the people that he helps keep safe by day and night or helping with a community tragedy or letting people know they are appreciated.
Several people have referred to him in the last several months as "a cop with a big heart."
"I guess you could say that I have a big heart, because I really do care about this community and its people," said Lt. Whittle during a recent interview. "I think if you live and work in a community that you love, you have to care about the types of things that go on - whether they are good or bad."
Just last week, following the unexpected death of McDuffie County Sheriff's Department Deputy Jerome Jackson, Lt. Whittle thought a memorial cookout might be a way of uniting those who work in law enforcement circles and other emergency services and offer them an opportunity to know they are appreciated.
"Sometimes, people who work these kinds of stressful jobs just need to know they are appreciated for what they do before it's too late," said Lt. Whittle.
It was brought closer to his heart when he witnessed the reaction of fellow lawmen over the death of Deputy Jackson on June 15.
"After seeing all of those people so upset; people I work closely with everyday, I knew that something needed to be done to let them know they are appreciated," said Lt. Whittle. "In talking with several of those who attended, I think it meant a lot to them."
The appreciation/memorial cookout was held last Wednesday at the Thomson Fire Department Headquarters.
Lt. Whittle, along with help from Fire Department Lt. Bryan Rogers, cooked 220 pork chops and 40 lbs. of sausage on grills. After the meat was prepared, they, along with a large number of city and county lawmen and other emergency services personnel, served themselves a variety of vegetables, hot yeast rolls and large offering of desserts.
"All the food that we enjoyed was donated by various businesses in our community," said Lt. Whittle. "I can't say how much we appreciate what they did for us."
Those businesses included: Town & Country Packing Company, Cason's, White Columns Inn Restaurant, U.S. Food Distributions Co., Sysco Food Co., Ryan's Steak House, Bi-Lo, Wal-Mart, Thomson IGA, Thomson Janitorial and Supply Co. and Neal's Bar-B-Q.
"It was real nice to see everybody get a chance to talk a little with one another and to remember Jerome," said Lt. Whittle. "Jerome was a very likable guy. He was one of a kind. He was there to cut a joke when you needed to hear something funny. We're all going to miss Jerome a bunch."