Officers with the Morganton Department of Public Safety went pink this month to show their support of breast cancer survivors and fighters.

Patrol cars have been adorned with pink ribbon bumper stickers and officers in uniform temporarily have traded out their silver badges for a light pink design.

The new style is meant to send a community-wide message that the department supports breast cancer awareness. The idea blossomed when officers saw the pink badges at a police executives conference in Wilmington over the summer.

“Cops love their moms,” MDPS Capt. Jason Whisnant said. “And their sisters and their aunts and their grandmothers ... anyone that’s ever had to battle breast cancer, it’s a life changing event.”

PSO Curtis said the pink badge has encouraged more people to engage with her to find out the purpose behind them.

“They see the pink badges and they come up and talk to us and ask us about it,” Curtis said.

PSO Lunsford agreed, saying that it lets them interact more with the community.

“I think it puts us on kind of like a personal level because people that have been dealing with breast cancer and everything, they can relate more and we can show support and everything by wearing the pink badges,” Lunsford said.

The badges also serve as an outward reminder for people to get themselves checked regularly, said PSO Davis. When people ask her about the badge, she said she asks them if they’ve been checked.

“I think the majority of the people that get breast cancer it’s because they don’t go and get checked,” Davis said. “Detection, getting checked, is the key.”

The five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 100 percent if breast cancer is detected early and still in its localized stage, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.

Davis pointed out that Breast cancer doesn’t just affect people whose relatives have had it.

“It can start with anyone,” Davis said. “Just because you haven’t had that in your family, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get it.”

Awareness wasn’t the department’s only goal when it went pink.

Shirts, patches and key chains all are available for sale to support local breast cancer survivors, Whisnant said.

“We think of what we do, serving and protecting, really this is an outward sign of reminding us to protect ourselves,” Whisnant said. “It’s not about just crime, but protecting yourself by early screening.”

Proceeds from the sales will go to the Blue Ridge Foundation, a local organization that helps people get access to mammograms and provides wigs and hairpieces for people battling breast cancer.

Call 828-437-1211 for more information, or stop by MDPS Headquarters on College Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make a purchase.

For more information on breast cancer and guides to early detection and self-examinations, visit nationalbreastcancer.org.

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Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.

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