MUNCIE, Ind. — The team at Maxwell’s Barber Shop in Muncie is working to say ‘thank you’ to members of law enforcement by offering them free haircuts through the end of August.

“Everybody’s always talking about paying it forward. What better person to pay it forward to than somebody who is going to lay down their own life for you,” said shop owner Brian Richards.

On the heels of recent events, including the line of duty death of Elwood Police Department Officer Noah Shahnavaz and more than half a dozen homicides in Delaware County in the month of July, including six in Muncie alone, Brian said he knew he wanted to do something to pay it forward.

“It’s a break from reality. They can come in here and forget what they’ve got to go back out to,” said Brian.

He said he reached out to Nick Richards, who also works at the shop, to make sure he was on board with the idea.

“I texted Nick and said, ‘you think we ought to do something like this? He’s always willing to help people out. He helps the local pantry out during the wintertime and has since the school he graduated with,” said Brian. “So, it was just a knee-jerk idea that did something.”

Through the end of the month, any member of law enforcement, including police officers, correctional officers, and dispatchers are encouraged to stop by for a free haircut. The only thing people need to bring with them is their credentials.

“Those guys are the heroes behind the scenes as well. If you have an officer that is out on a call, that dispatcher is their lifeline,” said Brian.

Brian estimates the barber shop has more than 50 members of law enforcement from Delaware County, Grant County, Henry County, Madison County, and more, that are regular customers. He said this offer is for any member of law enforcement, regardless of where they live or work, returning customer or not.

“They all have to deal with the sacrifices on a daily basis. I don’t care if they’re passing through, out-of-state, if they’re willing to make the drive, we’re willing to cut their hair,” Brian said.

On Friday and Saturday, Brian and Nick will also donate 100 percent of their tips to a donation they are also hosting. After receiving support from the community and customers, the shop decided to host a raffle to raise money to purchase gift cards for law enforcement officers and their families.

Members of law enforcement who come in to the shop will have their name put into a hat and drawn after the gift cards are purchased, and Brian said it will be one more way to show their gratitude.

The only thing that Brian hopes comes out of this is that people will feel encouraged to do acts of kindness and pay it forward in their own personal and professional endeavors.

Brian said, one of his customers is an officer from Elwood, in neighboring Madison County, which has made the recent tragedy hit even closer to home. It also hits close to home for law enforcement officers in Delaware County.

“Our hearts go out to the Elwood Police Department and the young officer that lost his life. It’s tragic and it hits close to home for us, just as a reminder that the first responders that do this every day are doing it selflessly,” said Deputy Chief Chris Deegan with Muncie police.

Their department has also responded to its fair share of difficult calls over the last month, including the investigation into the murders of three family members, a 5-year-old accidentally shot and killed by her 6-year-old brother, a man shot to death outside of Walmart, and the deadly stabbing of a woman over the weekend.

Deegan said, their hearts go out to the victims in these cases, as well as their fellow first responders who have also answered the calls.

“We had several major cases that have resulted in a loss of life, and we take that very seriously. We’ve dedicated every available resource that we had,” said Deegan.

In all cases, including the accidental shooting death of a young child, arrests have been made. Deegan said he’s witnessed resiliency from first responders in all professions over the last few trying weeks.

“This was all hands-on deck for a few weeks here and everybody stepped up to the plate,” he said.

Deegan, who has had his hair cut at the barber shop before, said the business has long been recognized for its support of first responders.

“It’s kind of like when you come into a barber shop, you’re paying for the haircut. If you tip the barber, it’s kind of like saying, ‘hey good job.’ Police officers, they get paid, they’re not in it for the perks, but every now and then they need to know that there’s something more than just an expectation,” said Brian.

Deegan shared, “It means a lot. You know, the officers don’t do the job for the perks, but it’s nice to be recognized and thanked, even though that’s not what they put the uniform on for every day, they do it because they want to.”

He hopes that the next month brings a reprieve from the violence and tragedy facing families and first responders answering the call, in Delaware County and beyond. Starting Monday, their department will welcome five officers that will start full-time Monday, including a woman who was appointed Thursday evening.

Deegan also said the community has been especially supportive of their department over the last month and wanted to thank the many businesses and individuals who have dropped off food or other items.