An effort to strengthen the bond between cops and the public in Ansonia had an even greater sense of urgency Saturday after two police officers were shot in New Haven.
“For law enforcement, when it’s a bad day, it’s a bad day,” Police Chief Kevin Hale told the crowd gathered at the First Baptist Church on Prindle Avenue. “Today we are reminded once again, (when) just literally 10 miles down the road, two police officers were shot.”
It’s something that every police officer faces every day, Hale said during the second annual “Honoring Ansonia Blue.”
“It could be on Prindle Avenue, it could be in the Valley, it could be anywhere, and these officers know that but they chose it,” the chief said. “We don’t do this to get rich. If you ask any one of them, whether they’re on the force two months or 20 years, why did you want to do this, they will say they wanted to make a difference.”
“Honoring Ansonia Blue” is an event meant to show support for law enforcement, and to raise money the department can use to buy equipment.
Last year, the first event raised more than $8,000, which was used to purchase a “trauma kit” for every officer that is used on severely injured victims.
This year, the church is hoping to raise enough money to purchase a defibrillator and ballistic shield for every police car. The defibrillator helps start the heart of a person in cardiac arrest, and the shields are used by officers to protect themselves while responding to shooting situations.
“This equipment is going to go a long way in helping us do our jobs to help you,” Hale said. “We appreciate your appreciation.”
Most often, police officers are the first to arrive at the scene of a call, so having a defibrillator is essential in providing help, Hale said.
“We have a tremendous ambulance corps here in Ansonia. When we get to a call, they’re not far behind us,” he said. “But we all know that in those situations, seconds matter, so this will enhance our ability to provide the best service we can.”
Because the department has no ballistic shields, the department borrowed one from the Seymour Police Department to have one on hand Saturday as an example of what the funds will purchase.
“We have found over the years in some of these horrible shootings all over the country that people will often not make it because they were wounded and rescuers were not able to get to them,” Hale said. “This will provide officers the ability to safely get to people, whether it’s other officers or anybody out of harms way, and to get them medical treatment.”
There isn’t money in the city’s budget to purchase items like these, Hale said.
“This is a huge endeavor,” Hale said. “Last year purchased a belt kit for each officer with well over $8,000, and wouldn’t have been able to do that without this fundraiser.”
The Rev. John Hinson, the pastor of First Baptist Church, said in the two years he has been in Ansonia, he has come to know Hale and the officers, prompting him and his wife Maude to want to raise the funds to provide them with what they need to do their jobs.
“In the last two years that I have come to know Chief Hale, I find him to be a man of integrity, he is very transparent and very clear, and that’s what I appreciate about any man,” Hinson said. “I appreciate all the officers that we have met in our two years of raising funds to assist the police department.
Mayor David Cassetti said the church is setting an example for the community.
“I think this is a great thing that the church has done for the police department,” he said. “This brings awareness to the department. They are not the bad guys. It is a tough job to be a police officer today.”