By Sherri Norris
In the late summer of 2021, a group of concerned citizens in the Boone area began gathering to discuss ideas for ways to support local law enforcement. More than a year later, leaders Charles and Diane Ford believe that the group’s ideas and efforts have been successful, so far, and they are greatly anticipating the opportunities that await in 2023.
“For several years we had been sensing a need to reach out in a tangible way to support our local law enforcement community,” said Diane Ford. “The need only become more apparent with the tragic deaths of two of our sheriff’s deputies, so we began to form a group of Watauga County residents to actively support and encourage local law enforcement agencies, their officers and families.”
And so it was that “Back Our Blue” was born — and the group has since taken every possible opportunity to show its support to officers of every law enforcement agency in Watauga County, including local municipalities and Appalachian State University.
Today, Back Our Blue is a local, nonprofit, nonpartisan charitable organization with the to provide emotional and physical support to our local law enforcement officers.
“We are not part of a national organization,” Ford added. “Our focus is on the officers of the High Country, and especially at this time, Watauga County.”
“We organized after the sacrifices made by Sgt. Chris Ward and Officer Logan Fox,” explained Ford. “Our first mission was to raise funds for the purchase of ballistic helmets for the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, which we did.”
The second project of Back Our Blue, was referred to as “Burn A Blue Bulb,” which received unanimous support from the Watauga County Commissioners to help organize community support among businesses, organizations and private residences to place a blue bulb in exterior lights and perhaps windows, by April 28, 2022.
“This date marked the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Sgt. Chris Ward and Officer Logan Fox, who gave the last full measure of their devotion to our community. By burning a blue bulb, we gave visible testimony to our law enforcement officers that we support them as they work hard to keep our community an enjoyable and safe place to live.”
The group members also delivered doughnuts to the sheriff’s department and police departments early on the morning of April 28.
“At the urging of Back Our Blue, the month of April was officially designated as Law Enforcement Month by The Town of Boone, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and the Blowing Rock Town Council,” Ford added.
The organization also hosted a luncheon at the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department at which officers and local residents had the opportunity to share a meal and exchange ideas for greater cooperation between the department and the residents of Watauga County. “A huge thank you to Andrew and Grace Barry for initialing, planning and facilitating the luncheon, and to those who donated food or money, or were in attendance. This event was the perfect example of one of the purposes of BOB: to give visible support and encouragement to our local law enforcement officers, as well as having the opportunity to spend time with them and get to know them on an individual basis.”
Next up was the annual Watauga County version of National Night Out, in which Back Our Blue enjoyed a great opportunity to not only help organize and facilitate the event, but also to be present with a booth and provide information about the organization and ways the community can come together to support its officers.
In late November, Back Our Blue partnered with the Boone Police Department to host a meal for the welcome and swearing-in ceremony for new Boone PD officers.
During the group’s final meeting of the year in November 2022, Sheriff Len Hagaman and Major Kelly Redmon were in attendance, expressing gratitude for the 10 ballistic helmets the group provided for their officers, and explaining the importance of the life-saving safety implements.
Sheriff Hagaman has, on several occasions, acknowledged the group and its efforts: “I am extremely humbled and moved that Dr. and Mrs. Charles Ford, ‘Back Our Blue’ and our community (as a whole) have been so supportive in recognizing the serious need to protect our deputies as they serve the citizens of Watauga County.”
In summary, and on behalf of Back our Blue, the Fords said they hope to continue, in the new year, the efforts already begun, as well as institute a yard sign and bumper sticker campaign as a visible encouragement to all local law enforcement officers.
“We want them to never forget that we are there for them and that we appreciate all that they do for us.”
To stay informed of Back Our Blue Watauga, visit on Facebook, email
backourbluewataug[email protected] or watch for updates at High Country Press.