Dustin "Dusty" Voris
Carl "Buddy" Smith
About Protecting the Blue
Photographer & President
Protecting the Blue is a nonprofit organization with a mission to honor and extend gratitude to law enforcement officers, current and retired. We also pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Protecting the Blue is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
The Beginning of Protecting the Blue: From a Personal Photo Project to a Global Movement
Protecting the Blue was initially a personal photo project that started in 2011. During a month-long photography residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Susan Smith, the founder saw a NYPD officer remove his cover and reveal prayer cards in the pocket of his hat. This sparked the idea to create a photo project of officers and their good luck charms.
In 2015, Susan returned to New York City to see where the idea would take her. Taking roughly a dozen photos, the project continued over the next year, with a few more photos taken. However, not all officers carried a good luck charm, so we designed a custom lucky challenge coin in 2016.
While waiting for a plane at the Minneapolis airport, Susan asked an officer if she carried a good luck charm. She showed her a glass heart given to her by her grandfather and asked about the project. the officer said that it needed a name and an online presence, which led to the official formation of Protecting the Blue in March 2016.
Since then, Protecting the Blue has photographed approximately 4,000 officers from four countries, attended law enforcement events, visited various police stations, and sent lucky custom challenge coins to officers worldwide. We also publish a yearly "Final Roll Call" slideshow honoring the officers lost in the line of duty.