Waupaca to buy vests, helmets, med kits
By Angie Landsverk
Area businesses and residents donated more than $20,000 to the Waupaca Police Department for the purchase of tactical vests and helmets for its officers.
“There were a lot of businesses that approached us, and citizens in the community just stopped in and dropped off checks or mailed them,” said Interim Police Chief Brian Hoelzel.
Some people who live outside of the city also donated money, he said.
Hoelzel asked the city’s Police and Fire Commission in early August for permission to raise funds for the equipment.
He did so because of the mass shootings and targeting of police officers throughout the country.
The commission authorized him to raise funds.
Within a month, the department received more than the $8,000 Hoelzel initially estimated it would cost to equip the officers.
“It’s been ordered. Bits and pieces are coming in,” he said.
Hoelzel expects the police department to have all the equipment within two months.
Due to the amount of money raised, a total of 11 tactical vests were ordered – one for each of the department’s vehicles.
Hoelzel said they decided to order vests that have ceramic plates in the front, back and sides of the vests rather than vests that have steel plates in them.
He noted there were reports of bullets going through the steel on vests and also ricocheting off of them.
The military uses vests with ceramic plates in them.
“It’s lighter and safer,” Hoelzel said.
Each of the department’s 15 officers will get a tactical helmet, he said.
In addition, Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) are also being purchased for the vests at a cost of $1,500.
The kits go on the outer part of the vest.
“Those are ordered to provide medical assistance to victims,” Hoelzel said. “Each has two tourniquets – one for the victim and one for the officer.”
In addition to the medical equipment, there are also magazines for rifles and handguns in the IFAK.
A bag, which looks similar to a backpack, will store the equipped vest inside the department’s vehicles, allowing officers to quickly slip into the vests if necessary.
There is a plan for funds raised beyond what is needed for the initial cost of the equipment.
“Whatever money is remaining after everything is paid for will only be used to update or replace worn out or damaged equipment,” he said.
How quickly the police department raised the funds surprised Hoelzel.
“There were people who said the officers needed to be protected,” Hoelzel said. “It’s great to get the support from the general public. We knew we had support. It was great to see.”