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Alexandria woman draws portraits for law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty

Jessica Thompson, 33, was inspired to draw portraits of police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty by Phil Taylor, an artist who paints portraits of fallen American soldiers.

Jessica Thompson
Jessica Thompson draws portraits of police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty as a way to remember their sacrifice.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — Jessica Thompson, 33, of Alexandria, has been drawing most of her life to calm her mind. But for the last three years, she has used her drawing skills to remember the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty by capturing their portraits.

"I have been drawing for 30 years. Since I could firmly hold a pencil at age 3," said Thompson. "It relaxes my mind and keeps the negative thoughts from my mental disability away."

While drawing has been a way for her to cope with her disability for most of her life, for the last three years, she has used her love of drawing to honor deputies and officers who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

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Jessica Thompson has drawn over 50 different portraits of officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

She said law enforcement officers inspire her as they have saved her life in the past.

Thompson got the idea to draw portraits of fallen officers from the Brush of Honor television series. The program features artist Phil Taylor who paints portraits of fallen American Soldiers then presents them to their families.

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Phil Taylor launched the American Fallen Soldiers Project after attending a funeral for a childhood friend who died while serving in Iraq in 2006.

Thompson said to date, she has drawn over 50 different portraits of law enforcement officers and recently began drawing fallen law dogs. Thompson said the K9 police dogs deserve just as much respect as their human counterparts.

She finds pictures to base her portraits on from odmp.org, Officer Down Memorial Page .

When Thompson finishes a drawing, she sends it to the department the officer served to let them decide to feature the portrait at the station or give it to the fallen officer's family.

She has sent out portraits across the country, including police departments in California and Florida.

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Jessica Thompson's portraits of fallen officers and the photos she uses for inspiration are spread out across a table at the Alexandria Echo Press office.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

One piece of feedback she received after sending out the portrait was of a widower who lost his wife in a traffic accident while she was on duty.

"I got word that he even started crying. He was so touched that someone he doesn't even know would draw portraits of fallen police officers," Thompson said.

Thompson feels people's attitudes toward cops are often illuminated negatively, which is why she feels it is important to raise awareness for their sacrifices.

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"I think cops are very disrespected in many ways," she said. "They risk their lives every day. They go to college and endure hard training to risk their lives to protect their community and people they may not even know. They also have to leave home without knowing for certain they will see their family again."

Thompson said she would like to get sponsorship from the community to help provide funds for the postage. She made it clear that any money received would not go to her and would just be used to pay the cost to send out the portraits.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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