Chasity Russell – President
Pink Behind the Thin Blue Line (PBTTBL) was started by Officer Jason Sprague’s wife after he was killed in the line of duty here in Texarkana. When she moved away from the community, Jason Sprague’s wife asked Chasity Russell, the organization’s current president, to take over. Chasity was a natural fit for the position because of her status as a board member and her strong ties to the law enforcement community. Chasity’s husband is a police officer, her brother-in-law is a correctional officer, and her best friend is now the Chief of Police. “I originally joined PBTTBL to have some comradery with local police families because the odd hours, tough job, and stress are so different from other professions. Little did I know that I joined PBTTBL at the peak of the negative press for police officers, and as the years have gone on, the hatred and fear of police seems to have gotten worse,” Chasity says. “Through this organization, we want to show our local officers that they have support in the community. I figured if we could reach one child and change their perception of officers, it would be worth it. Our officers are people too, and they joined the force to help others.”
The mission of PBTTBL is to “bridge the gap between our officers and the community they protect and serve.” Volunteers work towards this goal behind the scenes by helping both community members and officers in need. “Most of our activities are not ones we publicize due to their personal nature; however, we have assisted officers in giving back to the community in many ways,” Chasity says. “We are currently working on a free hygiene store at the Washington Community Development Center, and each year, we help Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) with PRIDE week. We also assist with the Shop with a Cop event and the Cops and Kids Dinner with the Orphanage and Watersprings Ranch kids.”
The PBTTBL volunteers are especially fond of the Cops and Kids Dinner. “It’s one of the few times that we get to see the results of our hard work,” Chasity says. “We decorate the event hall, buy and wrap all of the presents, help run the event, and then break everything down and store it for next year.”
However, PBTTBL does not just support events; they also provide resources for officers to meet needs in the community. “Once, an officer called and said he had a grandmother raising her two grandkids and doing her best, but the kids were sleeping on the floor. PBTTBL purchased two mattress sets, bedding, a dresser, and some decorations and gave it to the officer to deliver,” Chasity says. “One time, we had an officer call and said, ‘I have this kid in College Hill who has a 2-foot tree stump with a rusted-out bicycle tire rim that he is using for a basketball goal. Is there anything we can do?’ So, we purchased a portable basketball goal and two basketballs, and again, the officer delivered them to the kids.”
PBTTBL also helps support officers and their families as needs arise. For example, they helped with several all-male, all-police-officer beauty pageants pre-COVID that raised money for local officers and families battling cancer or other health issues. “Also, there are times when we have been made aware of officers having a challenging time financially, and we were able to provide help for the family. Honestly, anytime we help an officer, it has never been the officer that came to us; instead, it has always been another officer or a community member making the request,” Chasity says. “We have held prayer vigils and fundraisers and paid for training and counseling for needy officers. We have not had to turn an officer away that has come to us with a request, and we hope to keep our funds to where we never have to turn one away.”
Working with this organization has inspired Chasity to see the best in everyone and think more about the unknown struggles that many of our officers and community are facing. “Most things that we do are not publicized, and, if they are, we usually wait many years after the incident to protect the privacy of everyone involved,” Chasity says. “Our PBTTBL volunteers are happy to be in the shadows, working behind the scenes to help build a stronger bond between our officers and the Texarkana community.”
This holiday season, the community can best support PBTTBL’s efforts by donating funds or volunteering their time to help with the Cops and Kids’ Dinner event on December 13, 2022.
“If anyone wants to come help decorate for the event, we will do it the week before. Please call me and let me know if you want to help,” Chasity says. “Also, we are always taking donations for the FREE Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line Hygiene store at Washington Community Development Center. We also need donations for the Police, Fire, and EMS Snack Bar at the center for any on or off-duty first responder to come in, have a snack and a cold drink, and visit with the kids.”
For ways to get involved with PBTTBL and its mission, please contact Chasity Russell at 903-319-4752.