Retired N.C. Police Officer Serves Up Lunch for Former Colleagues

May 13, 2024
Since retiring from the Greensboro Police Department in 2018, Eric Rasecke has worked to put together lunches as a sign of appreciation for law enforcement officers and other first responders.

By Kevin Griffin

Source News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

Greensboro officers, Guilford County deputies, state troopers and other first responders chowed down on chips and salsa and other Mexican dishes for free on Thursday, courtesy of a former colleague.

Eric Rasecke retired from the Greensboro Police Department in 2018. Since that time, he has worked to organize lunches as a sign of appreciation for law enforcement officers and emergency personnel.

The pandemic disrupted the event for a few years, but Rasecke said he reached out to Joe Mandeville, co-owner of Rio Grande on New Garden Road, after 300-plus officers expressed interest in attending.

"When he contacted us, we were all hands on deck to help out with this," Mandeville said. "They're underpaid for what they do, so I think if we can do that one day or every day, it's providing a little bit of appreciation for what they do and the lack of adequate pay."

Mandeville agreed to reserve the restaurant exclusively for first responders from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Rasecke paid for the buffet-style lunch but declined to say the cost. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilwomen Marikay Abuzuaiter and Tammi Thurm dropped by to show their support.

Rasecke said he was inspired to offer lunches in particular because of the sense of gratitude he felt when restaurants would discount or offer free meals to officers or members of the public would pick up the tab for law enforcement.

"The one time that we get to actually enjoy some down time, and someone comes up with a gesture of providing us with a lunch or take the ticket away from us, it truly shows us the appreciation that they hold for us," he said.

Officers who were present for the lunch shared that feeling.

"I mean, you'll find a lot of officers here most days anyway but to know that they appreciate us enough to put something like this on really means a lot to us," Greensboro Officer Matt Markakis said.

Markakis also noted the honor comes during a period where communities typically honor the sacrifices of law enforcement.

This week is Police Week while Wednesday will be National Peace Officers Memorial Day, a federally-designated observance for officers who died in the line of duty.

The occasion is particularly poignant for officers in Greensboro this year, coming less than five months after longtime Greensboro Police Sgt. Philip Dale Nix was killed while intervening in an apparent shoplifting at a Sheetz in Colfax.

Markakis said Nix's death reminded officers of their mortality but that the department has been resilient.

"It's tough to maintain morale in the department after an incident like this but at the same time it also happens to bring a lot of us together in kind of a stronger fashion than anything else could really do," he said. "I think it's strengthened the bonds of brotherhood in the department for sure."

Capt. K.B. Johnson, who also came out to the lunch Thursday, said he knew Nix well and things have been hard since Nix's death. He called Nix "a great human being and a great officer, good leader here in the police department."

At the same time, he said some good seems to have come in the aftermath.

"I think it's brought out the best in some ways, if there is a good side to it," Johnson said. "A lot of people expressing support that maybe they wouldn't have expressed as openly in the past, just reaching out."

Rasecke said he had known Nix from the time Nix was 10 years old. He said Nix "had a way of talking to people" and "was able to bring people, calm them down in rough situations."

He also reflected on one of the more dangerous situations he encountered during his time as an officer.

Rasecke said he was accompanying a fellow officer to a domestic-violence call when they encountered a man armed with a pipe who appeared to be high on some drug.

The man sent Rasecke flying through the sheetrock and beat his partner to the point that the other officer had collapsed lungs and broken ribs, Rasecke said.

"I got a concussion and he almost got my weapon that particular day," Rasecke said. "My partner was on the ground. He was unable to defend himself anymore, so it's a life-and-death situation and finally when backup arrived, that's when everything calmed down. But that was a day it could have gone south real quick."

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(c)2024 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)

Visit the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) at www.news-record.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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