Rick Van Houten worried the plan to encourage officer Matt Pearce wasn’t working.
“The first couple days, we had a little 6-inch by 6-inch box with four or five [police] patches in it,” said Van Houten, the president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.
“I was getting a little bit discouraged.”
But one day the association’s mailbox held a 2-foot box stuffed full of patches.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Van Houten estimates that by now, about 500 patches have been received in the last two weeks, from as close as the Fort Worth suburbs to as far away as Madrid, Spain, and New South Wales, Australia.
“It keeps rolling in,” Van Houten said Thursday.
Pearce, 36, remains in critical condition. He was shot multiple times on March 15 after he joined a police pursuit of Ed McIver, 42, and his son, Ed McIver Jr., 20.
Police fatally shot the elder McIver. McIver Jr. faces a charge of attempted capital murder.
The community rallied behind Pearce: An online fundraiser for the officer and his family has collected more than $85,000, and about $100,000 has been raised from “#TeamPearce” T-shirt sales and donations.
The idea of the patches was to show Pearce how many fellow officers were thinking of him. Van Houten said social media helped enormously.
The police officers association has nearly 75,000 likes on Facebook, more than any other law enforcement union in the world, Van Houten said. The Dallas Police Association, by comparison, has under 10,000.
“This is exactly why we’ve spent the time, money and effort in building that [Facebook page] up,” Van Houten said.
Van Houten heard that Pearce’s wife might have the patches stitched into a quilt.
“That would be a mighty big quilt,” Van Houten said.