AURORA, Colo. -- Jan. 9 is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. The unofficial holiday created in 2015 by several law enforcement organizations.
Officers have stressful, demanding jobs and are often under appreciated.
Officer Natasha Muturi has been with the Aurora Police Department for 11 years.
"It’s tough, it’s totally tough. But it’s so nice. Like today I was hanging out with elementary students at school for lunch. They were super excited. I had three kids say, 'I want to be a police officer' when they grow up," she said.
Muturi is a Police Area Resource officer in the northwest part of Aurora. She starts her day checking hot spots for criminal activity. She then visits several schools in the area. She also checks in at the recreation center and a resource center for immigrants.
Muturi does it all with a smile and an infectious laugh.
“It’s my goal every day to build some type of positive relationship. I’m literally just doing the best I can to let the community know, families know, kids know that we are here to help, we’re not the enemy," she said.
She also responds to calls for service. While covering a recent traffic crash, she met one driver who did not initially have a good impression of police.
“By the time we finished, she said, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ She was like, ‘You are the nicest police officer I’ve ever met, thank you.' I could just tell in that fraction of 20 minutes I spent with her, whether she personally had issues with police or seen it, it was enough. She was like, 'You know, you guys are not that bad.' I thought, ‘Yes! This is a win for today!'” Muturi said.
But you don’t have to take her word for it, just ask people in the community she serves. Lara Frye is the director of the Village Exchange Center, a community resource center.
“She’s been able to answer a lot of questions get people out of some bad situations, into a safe situation and they felt comfortable going through that process with her. So that’s been really, really huge for the neighborhood here,” Frye said.
Muturi says she got into police work to be a resource and role model for women and minorities.
“I’ve lost track of how many cultures and families and faces I’ve met. We are just like everybody else, which is nice my interaction with people is so nice. People say, 'Wow, you are so cool to be a cop.' I’m just like everybody else, this is just what I happen to wear to work," she said.
Even though she feels the love all the time, Muturi says it is nice to have Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
“There’s a lot of unsung heroes, so it’s nice to have a day where we can be appreciated. Not everyone understands what our day is like," she said.