LAUREL HILL — You could count the number of men on one hand at the Barn at Water Oaks Farm recently.
The venue was filled with women "in and behind the blue line," as The Ladies of Law Enforcement held their first event under their new name.
The Ladies of Law Enforcement luncheon was catered toward women who work for law enforcement in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, or Walton county, and women who are married, engaged or dating an officer.
Hannah Fortune, the director of Ladies of Law Enforcement, said she spent several months planning the luncheon that was much more than a lunch. The event featured massage therapists, nail technicians, makeovers, a photo booth, food and giveaways.
Fortune did most of the planning. She called and visited various sponsors and collected items such as drinks and snacks while they were on sale.
Although planning an event that size comes with stress, Fortune's hard work is not without cause. She said she came up with the idea of a group centered around women of law enforcement a few years ago to say "thank you" to them.
"My passion for them ... it really just hit me. They don't have a support group," Fortune said with tears in her eyes. "When it comes to law enforcement here on the home front, it seems like you're just law enforcement. You're just a cop. All you do is pull over good people just trying to get to work, when the reality is they really have no idea what they're walking up to when they do a traffic stop."
Laurie Ward, the wife of a law officer, attended the luncheon. She said having a support system is important to her.
"Law enforcement doesn't get a whole lot of respect, and we back the blue," Ward said.
Amanda Odom, another law enforcement spouse, also said that having a support system helps.
"There's a lot of sleepless nights we don't know if our spouses or loved ones are coming home," Odom said. "The support and friendships we make is wonderful with the community."
Ladies of Law Enforcement changed its name recently after being called Blue Wives Matter the last two years.
"There's so much stigma around the Blue Lives Matter movement that we were losing interest from businesses," Fortune said. "Another thing that was a huge factor in going with the name Ladies of Law Enforcement was we had so many women that were in law enforcement themselves. .... Saying 'blue wives' they felt like it didn't apply to them."