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Home  |  News  |  Columbia Police Foundation: So many things the officers need

Columbia Police Foundation: So many things the officers need
Monday, November 28, 2011

COLUMBIA, SC - Columbia Police Officer Gloria McGill prepared to make a stop on a recent morning inside a Hardee’s on Piney Grove Road.

McGill smiled as she approached a stranger. Instead of writing out a ticket, McGill asked for a donation to the Columbia Police Foundation. After receiving a dollar, McGill handed the donor a navy blue wristband with the police department’s phone number printed on it.

“It gives me a sense of pride knowing I’m helping the department whether I ever see a penny of the money myself,” she said.

The Columbia Police Foundation is a new, nonprofit organization that will pay for a wide-range of projects that are not covered by the department’s regular operating budget. For example, the foundation may provide scholarships for officers who want to further their education, or it could help pay living expenses for an officer injured on the job, said Chief Randy Scott.

“They put their families aside to go out and protect, but very rarely is there anything to help the officers and their families,” Scott said. “There’s so many things the officers need. They’re not things you can take from tax money to help the officers.”

The foundation is governed by a board of directors who are all volunteers and independent of the police department. So far, the foundation has raised about $37,000, Scott said.

The department had a foundation earlier, but it had been defunct for some time, Scott said. Before coming to the police department, Scott worked at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, where he saw the benefits of an active foundation.

Similiar foundations are common among law enforcement agencies. On Nov. 21, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department received $50,000 from Paul Williams, a two-time welterweight boxing champion. The Lexington foundation will use the money to buy equipment for its aviation and dive teams and for its new in-service training center, Sheriff James Metts said.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Foundation has been around since Sheriff Leon Lott was elected in 1997. The foundation funds the department’s Kid Print program, which provides parents with copies of their children’s fingerprints. It also pays for college scholarships. Earlier this year, the foundation helped raise thousands of dollars on behalf of Deputy Mark Ryan when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, said Robert Liptak, the foundation’s president.

The sheriff’s foundation has about $133,000 in its account, Liptak said. It spends about $30,000 a year on various projects, and its board prefers to keep a $100,000 nest egg in the bank for emergencies, he said.

The Piney Grove Road Hardee’s restaurant has sponsored three fundraisers for the Columbia Police Department, including an event on Nov. 16 during which officers worked cash registers and the drive-through window. Even Scott put on a Hardee’s apron to man a register. Hardee’s agreed to donate 20 percent of its breakfast sales to the foundation.

Stephanie Swinney, the Hardee’s general manager, said she likes to organize events that give back to the community. Plus, the police officers and their cars attract customers, and the employees enjoy working with the officers, she said.

“What the officers do is important for the folks who live here and work here,” Swinney said.

The officers parked their cruisers with lights flashing in front of the restaurant and went to work. As people bought their morning coffee and breakfast biscuits, they dropped receipts in a specially-marked box or gave cash donations to the officers.

“I wanted this to also be about officers in the community,” Scott said. “It helps them if people have that association.”

Source: http://www.thestate.com/2011/11/28/2061058/so-many-things-the-officers-need.html

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