When Doyott White heard that someone had stolen more than a dozen American flags from locations throughout Paducah last Sept. 15, he was perturbed.
But that anger quickly translated into action, and two days after the theft, White replaced the American flag in front of the Paducah Police Department.
He wanted his action to remain anonymous.
“I thought I had parked out of the way of the cameras,” White said, but those cameras caught a man wearing a black and yellow Harley Davidson jacket ride up to the department on his motorcycle and respectfully replace and raise the flag.
After reviewing surveillance camera footage, it was determined White was the man. He still believes that either his boss or a co-worker at Mercy Regional Emergency Medical Service gave him up.
For his action, White was recognized by McCracken County Judge-Executive Bob Leeper and presented with “The Refuser” award at Monday’s fiscal court meeting.
The glass plaque is an accolade Leeper said is presented to county residents “who refuse to do nothing. When I came into office I wanted to come up with an award that recognizes people who make our community special, and he’s one of the people this award is designed for.”
White has worked at Mercy Regional EMS for 35 years, and for the past 13 has been responsible for raising and maintaining American and Kentucky flags – first at a single location and now at three. He said that he had good, but used, American flags that could replace those stolen, so he went to work.
“There are a lot of men and women who died for our country,” White said. “I did this out of respect for them.”
After the flag was replaced in September, Paducah Police Capt. Joe Hayes praised the action of a person then referred to as a “Good Samaritan.”
“Watching his actions — the way he handled the flag, the fact that the flag was folded, watching him hook up the flag and make sure it was attached to the line correctly, the respect that he gave the flag raising it up — indicated to me that he was probably a veteran, and he just wanted to see the flag back up on the flag pole.”
A week after the flags were taken, Andy C. Sneed, 43, of Indianapolis, was arrested and charged with felony theft by unlawful taking of items valued between $500 and $10,000.
When arrested, 19 American flags, a city of Paducah flag, a Kentucky flag and one belonging to a church were found in Sneed’s possession.
His case is still working through the system.
When the flag was stolen from the police department, Hayes said that the perpetrator showed deep disrespect in the way that he handled the flag and the fact that he stole an American flag in front of the department.
Of the person who anonymously replaced the flag, he said, “I wouldn’t mind meeting him and shaking his hand and saying thank you.”
Monday evening, county commissioners, police officers, and friends and family all got that chance.