The death of Tecumseh Officer Justin Terney, who was killed in a shootout last week, has touched hearts nationwide. A photographer who knew Terney has found a way to honor him, while giving something special to other officers in the state.
It's picture day at the Wewoka Police Department and every officer, even Dante the K9, posed for their portrait dressed in full police uniform.
“My guys truly appreciate it,” Wewoka Police Chief Mike Windle said.
It's been decades since the Wewoka PD has had a professional photographer stop in. It’s just not in the budget.
“We don't have money for that,” Windle said. “Our priorities are more geared to getting our guys trained up and the equipment they need.”
And that's not a problem because this photo session isn't costing the department a dime.
“I knew that I had to step up in a small town and do what was right,” Country Creations Photography owner Tabitha Cozad said.
Cozad is offering free portraits to law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders within a 50 miles of McAlester. She's already booked about a dozen agencies, some of which are outside the 50 miles because she just couldn’t say no.
It's something she decided to do the day after Tecumseh Officer Justin Terney was killed in the line of duty.
“I went to school with him my whole, entire life,” Cozad said. “He made an impact on a small town.”
She says when he died the only pictures of Terney, dressed in his full police uniform, were selfies and snap shots from cell phones.
“His mom can't look back and have that portrait of him to hang on her wall,” Cozad said tearfully..
To make sure other officers and their families always have a professional picture to cherish, Tabitha plans to honor Terney by offering her photography talents to police for free, year around.
“We don't see people like this very often. It's amazing,” said Caroline Glass, whose husband is a Wewoka officer. “It's gonna be a great deal for sure for my family. I know his mom's looking forward to it. I'm just ready to blow it up and put it on the wall.”
And just like the portraits, these moments in time are priceless and without the pictures, Chief Windle says there would some lost history.
“We're very, very appreciative of Tabitha. It strikes to the heart,” Windle said.
Wewoka’s new police portraits will be hung on the from wall inside the police department.
There are other photographers in the Oklahoma area offering to take officer portraits for free. You can visit their Facebook pages here.