Law enforcement supporters gather in Durham

DURHAM (WTVD) -- For the first time in months, a large crowd converged at Durham Police Headquarters not to protest the department, but instead offer support. Friday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

"People you don't even know [are] coming out and saying thank you," said Durham resident Lauren Horner. "It's really awesome."

"Our police officers have sworn a life of protection and service to us, and I think they deserve a little more respect than they've been getting lately," said resident Dana Horner, whose son is Durham police officer. "I know what personally he went through in the academy to become an officer and what he goes through daily when he's out there working for these people."

The rally comes after a string of turbulent protests in the city. Demonstrators have come out in droves upset about grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

Protesters have shut down the Durham Freeway and swarmed city streets calling for an end to police profiling and violence.

Police Chief Jose Lopez said his officers welcome the warm wishes after last year and the department has high hopes for what's ahead.

"[This year], I believe, should be the year for conversation and we need to start sitting down and talking and learning about what it is that our concerns are and looking for solutions jointly," said Lopez.

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