Frank McClelland Jr., Anthony Christie, Michael Wayne Smith, Antwan DeArvis Toney, Chase Lee Maddox, and Edgar Isidro Flores. These are the names of the six fallen Georgia police officers, who lost their lives serving their communities in 2018. To honor the sacrifice these men made, Atlanta based non-profit Point 27 distributed scripture inscribed specialty dog-tags to their fellow officers, and scripture inscribed necklaces to the families of the fallen.
Retired Col. David Dodd and Point 27’s mission is to strengthen and encourage members of the Armed Forces, first responders, athletes, and those with chronic illnesses. The dog tags— which come in a number of different styles from their partner company Shields of Strength— feature a thin blue line, the customary mark of a police officer.
Dodd got the idea for the non-profit after serving 27 years in the military and four combat deployments, he said. He wore a dog tag with the scripture Joshua 1:9 engraved on the back.
“Those words brought me comfort during the hardest times,” Dodd said. “I was able to share dog tags like that with other members of the units I commanded. I saw the benefit of it. It’s a physical reminder that we aren’t alone. When I retired, I wanted to stay connected to the military—so I set up Point 27 with the intent to stay connected to Army members and their families.”
Two years after creating Point 27, Dodd was approached by law enforcement agencies. After spending time with them, he soon realized how similar the officers were to soldiers. Over the last three years, Dodd has expanded Point 27’s outreach to law enforcement agencies all over the country. Point 27 now supports military and first responders, Dodd said.
The dog tags are engraved with a verse from the book of Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”— the verse synonymous with nearly every police memorial across the country, Dodd continued. Four years ago, Dodd partnered with the FBI and departments across the country to develop the unique design of the dog tag. It features an American flag with a blue line in place of one stripe.
“The goal is to get one of these dog tags to each law enforcement officer in the country,” Dodd said. “There are about one million officers across the United States, and so far, nearly 75,000 already have a tag.”
Dodd said that Point 27 monitors officers across the country with software that ultimately reports officer fatalities. When there is a fatality in a department, Dodd immediately sends a package of 27 dog tags to the agencies as “branding.”
“We present the dog tags to thank the officers for their putting their lives on the line to protect Americans,” Dodd said. “The dog tag is engraved with a Bible verse and serves as a physical reminder that God is with them day and night as they patrol and protect the streets of their communities. We want them to know we appreciate and value them.”
Dodd empathizes with those who have lost those treasured officers and family members—having dealt with the pain and suffering in the military. In a gesture to the families, Dodd also sends a Folded American Flag pendant to family members. The purpose is to simply recognize the sacrifice of the family. The pendant bears a scripture from the Book of John 15:13— “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“The biggest thing that families worry about is that their loved one will be forgotten,” Dodd continued. Every day, something reminds them of their loved one. Life goes on for everyone else. There’s normally a lot of outreach when the tragedy happens, but these families never forget. By giving hope to the hopeless, and sharing encouragement, it’s a rewarding feeling to me. The best thing I can do is to give back and strengthen.”
A little closer to home, Chief McClelland was fatally struck and killed at an intersection in September 2018 while trying to direct traffic during a high-speed chase. Coming from his home and time with family, McClelland never once second-guessed his decision to go and serve his town, dying in the line of duty that night. McClelland and motorcyclist Marvin Pope were both killed in the accident.
His wife Cindy McClelland was the recipient of the Folded Flag pendant from Point 27.
“It was very heartwarming,” she said. “We greatly appreciated being presented with those items. It meant a lot to us to receive this, and to have someone reach out to someone they didn’t know.”
In 2019, Point 27 will officially have given a Thin Blue Line dog tag to every officer in Georgia and Nevada, Dodd said. The organization has received funding that will work towards providing more tags to officers in Louisana, Ohio and South Dakota.
As of December 2018, Point 27 has donated well over one million Shields of Strength to military and law enforcement across the U.S. For more information on Dodd, Point 27 and its work, visit www.point27.org.