The officer had a meal in her hands, but stared at the plate confused. She was new to Laurie Horton’s home, so Horton asked the officer what was wrong.
“’This is China,’” the officer said. “Why are you serving us all on China?” There were many officers there.
“When you have family over for dinner, you serve on China,” Horton replied. “I said that, and the tears from her followed.”
That was one year. This year will be Horton’s 25th time serving Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to KCPD’s officers, a tradition that began for Horton before she joined KCPD herself in 2001.
In the late ‘90s, Horton’s neighborhood was crime-saddled with drug houses. She and her neighbors worked with East Patrol Division to make the neighborhood safer. Eventually they did, and though Horton and her husband, Kevin, saw less of the officers afterwards, they’d had gotten to know them.
One Thanksgiving, Horton noticed a few squad cars drive down her street. Her husband walked outside and shouted, “pull over and come and eat!”
Four officers ate dinner with them that night. It was five by Christmas. Eventually, they invited East Patrol and Central Patrol Divisions. Today, it’s all of KCPD. Anyone who wants a home-cooked holiday meal can walk into Horton’s home between 2-11 p.m. Thanksgiving and Christmas nights and fill up with food loaded on China.
“I feel a need to make sure they know how special they are,” Horton explained. “How unique and marvelous they are. The job they do is not easy. We want to give them comfort. We want to nuture.”
Horton is an administrative assistant in the Criminal Records Section, helping to organize and categorize criminal records computer entries for stolen property, missing people, and city, state, and federal warrants. Her work brings faster resolutions to people whose property was stolen, ensures those reported missing are being searched for by as many people as possible, and brings justice to those that are wanted for committing crimes.
Within the department, Horton’s well known. One time she was in a class made up of professional staff and officers. Everyone was introducing themselves. When the instructor asked how many children Horton had, a detective in the back of the room yelled, “1200!” Mama, she said, is the best label in the world.
Horton is excited about this holiday season, marking a quarter of a century feeding KCPD officers. The time has gone by quickly, but there’s no end in sight.
“We want the officers to know they are loved,” smiled Horton. “We love them. That’s part of being a mom.”