OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - Less than a week after deputies were refused service at a Taco Bell location in Phenix City, several supporters in East Alabama came to the Lee County Sheriff's Office to show their support for all officers in blue.
Deputy Michael Meacham of the Lee County Sheriff's Office was one of two deputies affected at the store, and one of two men especially honored Thursday afternoon by followers of the group East Alabama Backing the Blue.
Meacham said it was a good feeling seeing all the people bringing ribbons, cakes and thank you cards.
"It showed us how many people truly appreciate us, and care about us," Meacham said.
Deputy Terrance Moore, Meacham's partner that night, also felt grateful for the outpouring of support.
"It was amazing, coming in to see how much support everybody had brought in," Moore said.
Moore said the far-reaching power of social media lets some people express negative feelings towards law enforcement officers, but still, he said it's a good thing to see supporters in the community.
When asked if either of them had any hard feelings toward the Taco Bell they visited Saturday night, both deputies said they've had normal, enjoyable experiences at that Taco Bell location.
"Every other time, they've treated us very well," Meacham said. "It's been a good experience."
"I think the Sheriff said it best," Moore said, "when he said, 'You can't judge a franchise over just one employee.'"
Stephen Hadley, the event's lead organizer and a former military service member, said Thursday's token of appreciation is for the majority of law enforcement, who feel the actions of a few do not speak for every officer.
"Unfortunately, you may have that one bad apple, but that does not define law enforcement as a whole," Hadley said.
Several representatives from the Phenix City Taco Bell also came to show their appreciation for the deputies, reiterating that the treatment they received Saturday night went against company policy.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office also commended Taco Bell for acting swiftly to investigate the matter. The employee in question was ultimately fired.
Hadley said he's planning another event with East Alabama Backing the Blue.
The upcoming appreciation event would include all police agencies across the Chattahoochee Valley, as well as firefighters and EMTs.