Ahmad Qawi

Ahmad Qawi, vice president of the Racine YMCA, accepts a Community Policing Award on behalf of Caron Butler and his wife, Andrea, from Racine Police Chief Art Howell. Howell said the department sponsors several youth teams for baseball, basketball, football and others, and the Butlers have given more than $100,000 “over the last couple of years,” to help keep those programs going. The fourth annual Policeman’s Ball on Nov. 4 recognized some members of the community who don’t put on the blue uniform but nonetheless contribute to making the community a safer place.

RICARDO TORRES, ricardo.torres@journaltimes.com

On behalf of the men and women who serve our community as sworn law enforcement officers, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the broader community for your support of the Fourth Annual Policeman’s Ball.

After spending time writing a number of thank you letters to our many sponsors, it occurred to me that an open letter of thanks to the community at-large was in order as well, as the 2017 event could not have been the success it was without community support.

Beyond the surface level optics of formal attire, food, fun and fellowship, was a deeper experience most communities can only dream of in a post-Ferguson/Baltimore, environment. With national police-community relations at an all-time low, local law enforcement officers enjoy a significantly different narrative. There are a number of factors that contribute to the local climate, most notably, the development of long-term community partnerships and the commitment to meaningful and intentional police-community engagement.

Similar to the Zoo Debut, the Policeman’s Ball facilitates the opportunity for community members to assemble to “party for a purpose.” In the case of the Policeman’s Ball, the purpose is to raise funds in support of enhancing public safety.

The 2017 ball began with the posting of our nation’s colors by two Boy Scouts from Troop 101 and one Cub Scout from Pack 121. This time-honored tradition was followed by a soul-stirring acapella rendition of the Star Spangled banner by two local teenagers. As the teens sang with passion, the huge and diverse crowd of guests all stood, hand to heart, shoulder to shoulder, connecting on a personal level, ushering in a spirit of unity that would set the tone for the evening.

Since the inception of this event in 2014, more than $100,000 has been raised in support of local K9 teams and the Racine Police Athletic Association’s Police Pal mentoring programs. New this year, the local Fight to End Exploitation nonprofit organization was added to list of beneficiaries for their local work in the fight against human trafficking.

During a short awards program during this event, Sister Rose Marie Anthony of the Siena Center was presented with a Community Policing Partner Award for her work in leading the fight against human trafficking. Caron and Andrea Butler were also presented with a Community Policing Partner Award for their significant financial support of local police youth mentoring initiatives.

Also in connection with this event, the Racine Community Foundation announced the creation of a new K9 Acorn fund. This fund, started by two donors who wanted to ensure the future sustainability and viability of local canine teams, will ultimately become a grant-making fund established to achieve the objectives and vision of the founding donors.

Thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of community support, the 2017 Policeman’s Ball was a huge success. Special thanks goes out to our presenting sponsor, SC Johnson, our chief/sheriff sponsors, Patrick and Liz Powell and a host of lieutenant and sergeant sponsors. Also, special thanks to Jessica Lynott, event chairperson, District Attorney Patricia Hanson, Jeff McKeown, the entire ball planning committee and the community at-large.

As evidenced by the broad community support for this important initiative, our community truly “backs the badge.” The sworn men and women who risk their lives in service to community are truly grateful for your support!

Art Howell is chief of police for the City of Racine.

Art Howell is chief of police for the City of Racine.

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