WAPAKONETA — National Police Week is May 10-16, and a grassroots group called Let’s Back the Blue has been formed in Auglaize County to encourage support for and appreciation of law enforcement personnel countywide.
The group’s goal is to build bridges between the communities of Auglaize County and the law enforcement agencies that serve those towns and cities.
Anne Niemeyer, a Wapakoneta resident and executive coordinator of the fledgling organization, hopes Auglaize County can set a shining example for the rest of Ohio and the nation in putting forth a visible display of support for law enforcement professionals in the county.
“They need that emotional boost,” Niemeyer said. “Their job is a dangerous one.”
Niemeyer encourages all of Auglaize County to “go blue” during National Police Week with blue lights, blue ribbons, flags, yard signs and bracelets, most of which are available for purchase on the group’s website at http://letsbacktheblue.org.
“It seems there is a wave of disrespect around the state for law enforcement and if nothing is done it will continue to gain momentum,” Niemeyer said. “I envision all these signs in yards and blue lights above the doors on homes” as a signal to police officers that the residents of Auglaize County are solidly behind them.
The Let’s Back the Blue organization has a goal of raising $25,000 through fundraisers and patron memberships. Platinum Badge Patrol sponsorships are $1,000; Gold Badge Patrols are $5000; Silver are $250 and Bronze are $100. Blue Badge Patrol memberships range from $5-$99.
Fundraisers include raffles and auctions, a 5K run, corporate and small business sponsorships, individual donations, yard sale signs and other events.
Niemeyer said Auglaize County residents have already started to rally around the group’s initiatives.
“It’s really been a blessing. All the mayors in the county are on board and school superintendents are bending over backwards to do what they can,” Niemeyer said. “Chambers of commerce are excited and the county commissioners have said they will spread this idea to the other 87 counties in Ohio.”
Churches throughout the county are scheduling potluck dinners and Blessing of the Badges events and libraries are hosting Read With a Cop events, she noted.
Niemeyer said funds raised by the organization will be used to help law enforcement agencies purchase much-needed equipment. Among the needs already identified are digital cameras for New Bremen and New Knoxville police, three new Tasers for the Minster Police Department, nine active shooter protection kits for Wapakoneta and Cridersville police, a portable Breathalyzer for Waynesfield police and K9 supplies for the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office.
Let’s Back the Blue is a partner of the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership, a non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.