Stevens Point police got an unexpected morale boost on Wednesday, thanks to a local tattoo shop.
Sgt. Bob Kussow said the SPPD took in a donation of a Thin Blue Line flag — an homage to law enforcement, both living and fallen — from Invictus Tattoo artist Arturo Sosa on July 5.
Sosa, 30, grew up in Stevens Point but said he has “a lot of family and friends” serving as law enforcement officers in San Antonio, Texas.
“I pretty much tattooed half the precinct down there,” he said, laughing. But that laughter disappeared when he recounted a June 30 shooting at the San Antonio Police Department, during which his cousin’s partner, Officer Miguel Moreno, was killed during a traffic stop.
Sosa said he was deeply affected by the shooting, as was his employer, Invictus owner Sean Labecki. Despite spending some time on the wrong side of the law in their respective pasts, both men say they now carry a deep respect for law enforcement, and for the military.
“A lot of people have opinions about law enforcement, but that fact is, when we need them, they’re there, regardless of the situation,” Labecki said, then, shaking his head in dismay, said, “We just had an officer gunned down in New York…you hope that never happens here.”
Sosa flies a Thin Blue Line flag on that back of his truck; a flag that was sent to him by law enforcement in San Antonio. He said it’s a constant reminder to himself, and hopefully those around him, of the sacrifice made by those in law enforcement every time they clock in for the day.
Sosa said while he said he’s grateful for all local law enforcement, it’s the SPPD he knows best, which is why he donated the flag there.
“He said he wanted us to have this because he wanted us to know there are still people who care about us, and that’s very cool,” Kussow said of the donation. Among other duties, Kussow serves on the department’s Honor Guard, and has attended many law enforcement funerals across the country.
And he remembers both Labecki and Sosa from incidents several years ago.
“It was great to see how much they’ve both changed,” Kussow said.
“We called before we went [to the police dept.], and when we got there, it just happened to be Kussow who walked out,” Labecki said, chuckling. “And we couldn’t have presented to a better person; someone who knows us from…not our best point of view.”
“Every time I would hear about an officer being killed, or one of our buddies being injured, I put the flag up, whether I know them or not,” Susa said. “It’s just my way of telling local police that I appreciate them; in my younger days, I didn’t.”