Students Making a Difference: The Fallen Officer Project

A group of students from Culver-Stockton College were presented an opportunity to honor a fallen officer and support the mission of BackStoppers. Criminal Justice Lecturer and Reserve Deputy in Monticello, Missori Seth McBride designed a student led project to help students remember officers that made the ultimate sacrifice and simultaneously create awareness and support. “I wanted to create a project for the students that would be educational, and service back to the law enforcement community”, McBride recalls. The Fallen Officer Project would not be as simple as writing an essay, but an assignment that would challenge and provoke emotions.

The students began by choosing a fallen officer to represent throughout the duration of the project. With the approval of the college administration and permission from the family or department to represent the officer, the students then commenced research on their chosen hero. The first part of the project would require students to present a live streamed presentation on the officer. The second part of the project required the students to participate in the Badge of Honor Benefit Run. The Badge of Honor Benefit Run is an annual race held in Poplar Bluff, Missouri that benefits BackStoppers among other first responder related organizations. In addition, the students ran the race wearing a T-shirt with their fallen heroes’ name. Afterwards, they sent a letter along with their finisher’s medal to the surviving family or department. “What was special about this project was even with all the requirements, the students still volunteered for the project. The students who participated in the Fallen Officer Project did not receive any college credit. They all wanted to show their appreciation for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice”.

Student Eric Pingolt and Elizabeth Snyder, Surviving Spouse of Officer Blake Snyder, EOW 10/6/16, with son Malachi

Students chose fallen officers to represent from all over the country. One student, Eric Pingolt chose to represent and honor Officer Blake Snyder, EOW 10/6/2016, of the St. Louis County Police Department. “I chose to represent Officer Snyder for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that he was from St. Louis and that was about an hour away from where I live. I grew up taking trips to St. Louis so when the tragedy occurred, I couldn’t believe it. Another reason why I chose Officer Snyder was because he was an outstanding police officer, and a very good citizen. Officer Snyder was heavily involved in community service projects along with a strong involvement in his church. The person Officer Snyder was and the example he set is the person I strive to be once I have my own career in the criminal justice field. I think the Fallen Officer Project is important because it remembers the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Being able to do my report on Officer Snyder was not only an honor but a privilege”.   

Along with Eric, other students took away a sense of profound respect and impact Deputy McBride hopes they will carry with them for the rest of their careers. “I wanted the students to understand sacrifice on different levels. They needed to understand the ultimate sacrifice the men and women who took the oath deal with every day. Many of the students who participated in this project want to go into law enforcement. The students needed to embrace not just how brave the officers were but see how the families dealt with it as well. I wanted to show the law enforcement community, as well as the country, that students from a college in Northeast Missouri can have a positive outlook on our law enforcement officials, especially the police officers who gave their lives to protect others. I couldn’t be prouder of the students who participated in the Fallen Officer Project”. Deputy McBride also shares that because of the support from the Culver-Stockton College administration, a new course will be offered called “In the Line of Duty,” which will require the students to complete the Fallen Officer Project and include an in-depth study of fallen heroes.

The heart and mission of BackStoppers weighs heavily on Deputy McBride, and he strives to impart this on his students. “I have known about BackStoppers since I started my law enforcement career. During the Fallen Officer Project, I spoke about what BackStoppers is, and the great things they do for families of fallen first responders. It’s important for our students to understand the sacrifices these first responders made for their community. It is also important to show these students how the community comes together to support a great organization such as BackStoppers”. 

We are very proud and honored to see this generation pay tribute to fallen first responders and support our mission. Thank you to Deputy Seth McBride for leading the way and spreading awareness of our mission, and thank you to the students that participated in the Fallen Officer Project.