ALBEMARLE — It was officially announced on Aug. 1 that the Oakboro Police Department had been awarded a $1,000 cash prize from Blue Line Unlimited, a national nonprofit that supports first responders and officers.
Throughout the past month, law enforcement agencies across the country submitted vehicle photos to the Blue Line Unlimited Police Cruiser Photo Contest to claim a prize for the highest-voted agency. Nearly 60 different agencies across America were entered into the contest where users could send in one vote per 24 hours during the month of June.
With a grand total of 17,454 votes — easily surpassing the runner-up, Ohio-based Mentor Police Department (4,153 votes) and the third-placed, Virginia-based Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office (2,436 votes) — the Oakboro Police Department came out on top.
“The final results are in for the police cruiser photo contest, and we have a winner. Congratulations to the Oakboro Police Department on taking home the grand prize of $1000.00 for your department,” Blue Line Unlimited posted on social media. “We’d like to thank all of the agencies who took part in this contest and look forward to another one in the coming months.”
Oakboro Sergeant J.S. Eschert responded online to the news of his department’s online victory and confirmed that $250 of the award earnings would be donated to Toys for Tots Stanly County, a charity run by the U.S. Marine Corps that provides Christmas gifts for low-income children.
“Be proud, everyone, because without you, we couldn’t have done this.” Escher wrote. “Thank you to Blue Line Unlimited; we appreciate everything your organization does to help law enforcement. Thank you to all the other agencies that took part in the contest from around the US. You all have some good-looking rides, and as always, stay safe and watch your 6. Thank you, Oakboro, Stanly County, and everyone else that joined in to support us.”
The latest police cruiser contest wasn’t the first Blue Line Unlimited contest that Oakboro has been successful in.
Last November, the department’s K9 Joker — an Oakboro K9 police officer — helped raise over $6,000 in grassroots donations for Toys for Tots after a close head-to-head national K9 photo contest. While a dog from Ohio’s Brimfield Police Department ended up narrowly edging out Joker in the contest, the Oakboro Police Department was still awarded a $250 second-place prize in addition to further donations from the community.
Officer Eschert recently posted about the emergence and popularity of the Oakboro Police K9 unit that consists of Joker & Bane, both of which are dual-purpose dogs from Poland.
“The Oakboro Police K9 Unit started in Feb. 2021 when several of us went to Scotland Neck, NC, to pick K9 Joker and K9 Bane. We wanted the two best K9s we could find, and we believe we did just that,” Eschert said. “As part of doing this, we wanted the K9s to be a social part of our community. K9 Joker has become such a symbol for Oakboro and his following across social media. I have always strived to make him available for public events and interactions. We have built upon many great things for our community and department during the last nine months.”