Father of slain Va. state trooper says ‘thank you’ through billboards

RICHMOND, Va. -- A year ago, the father of a fallen Virginia State Police trooper thanked law enforcement in his native Kansas City and in the Commonwealth around the holidays. Now, his gesture will go nationwide.

John Dermyer, the father of Trooper Chad Dermyer, wanted to express his gratitude to law enforcement in a big way.

"They deserve our gratitude," he said. "They need to be able to go home to their families everyday like we do when we get out of work."

A portrait honoring Trooper Chad Dermyer.

A portrait honoring Trooper Chad Dermyer.

When he contacted Lamar Outdoor Advertising to ask about buying a billboard message in 2016, the company offered four digital billboards for free.

Company officials also decided to extend the message to Virginia where John Dermyer’s son Chad lived and worked.

The company also honored Dermyer on its digital billboards across the state after the tragedy.

When John Dermyer contacted the company again last week, Lamar offered to run his message on the 2,800 digital displays standing throughout the nation.

"It’s our way of wishing police a Merry Christmas," he said. "The law enforcement and first responders tdon’t seem to get the respect most of the time."

This year's message will appear on billboards across the country on Friday, Dec. 22.

The billboard reads:

The Dermyer family would like to thank you for what you do every day. Merry Christmas. In loving memory of Virginia State Trooper Chad Phillip Dermyer, End of Watch, March 31, 2016.

Chad's brother, John Dermyer Jr., said it's tough not hearing from his best man and friend everyday. He hoped these billboards help carry Chad's legacy from coast to coast.

"We don’t want Chad to be forgotten and this is a way to keep his name out," he said. "We also want to thank everybody day in and day out who put on the uniform and go to work. You never know what’s going to happen."

Michelle Dermyer stands in front of a billboard thanking law enforcement for their service.

Michelle Dermyer stands in front of a billboard thanking law enforcement for their service.

Michelle Dermyer, Trooper Chad Dermyer's widow, posted on Facebook that a billboard thanking officers for their service will be displayed next Friday.

"As many of you may remember, my father-in-law had these billboards done last year. We were lucky enough to get them in a couple of states. Well, this year my father-in-law had a "Go big or go home idea" and was able to contact the CEO of Lamar advertising Sean Reilly and he has agreed to make these billboards go NATIONWIDE on Friday December 22," Michelle Dermyer wrote. "It is so important to our family that Chad's legacy continues, that he is NEVER forgotten and that law enforcement officers across this great nation knows that we appreciate everything they do for us."