Editor’s note: All six of our area Sheriff’s Offices (Barron, Burnett, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, and Washburn) responded to a recent survey and therefore received a donation to buy new equipment. DrydenWire contacted each of our area Sheriffs to find out what they are planning to purchase with the funds.
BARRON COUNTY -- The Barron County Sheriff’s Office is about to get some new equipment after receiving an anonymous donation.
In the fall of 2021, the Badger State Sheriff’s Association (BSSA) learned of an individual interested in making an anonymous donation to enhance the safety of law enforcement personnel in Wisconsin. In response, the BSSA contacted the Law Enforcement Foundation of Barron County (LEFBC) to engage that organization’s partnership in accepting such a donation. The BSSA then undertook the creation of the 2021 BSSA Safety First Initiative to survey the 72 Wisconsin Sheriffs on their safety needs.
A total of fifty-three Sheriffs responded to the BSSA Safety First survey with equipment needs that exceeded 1.4 million dollars. The results of the survey were provided to the anonymous donor who, reiterating a desire to help keep law enforcement officers in Wisconsin safe while handling high-risk events, determined to fully fund the requested equipment.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was among the 53 that responded to the survey and received a donation to purchase new equipment.
DrydenWire: How much money did you request/receive?
Sheriff Fitzgerald: $20,000
DrydenWire: What equipment will you be purchasing with this donation?
Sheriff Fitzgerald: The Barron County Sheriff’s Department is using these privately donated funds to purchase Thermal Imaging Monoculars for our patrol division.
DrydenWire: Why did you choose this equipment?
Sheriff Fitzgerald: I’ll be honest, I looked at the wants versus needs type of thing, this was an opportunity to get the want versus maybe the need. This is supposed to be used for equipment that’s not budgeted for.
The department has only two thermal image/night vision units-mostly for our tactical team but not for each deputy. This puts deputies at a disadvantage during searches at night. With the donation, the Sheriff’s Department will be put these devices in each of our night deputy’s hands and some of our day squads also, with the hope down the road to make sure all our deputies have one of these.
The donor wanted the funds spent quickly. As a result, the equipment is on order and should be in our deputy’s hands very soon.
We didn’t spend tax dollars to accomplish this and it’s enhanced the safety of our personnel and deputies capabilities.
DrydenWire: What would you like to say to the anonymous donor?
Sheriff Fitzgerald: I want to thank the anonymous donor and all the people that made this happen from the Badger State Sheriff’s Association to the Barron County Law Enforcement Foundation. This donation is a "Force Multiplier." Meaning that because of this donation our deputies will be able to assess the scene to make it safer for them and the people we protect immediately upon arriving. We will be able to search larger areas quicker for subjects hiding from us or lost and possibly hurt. This is exactly what the donor wanted and we are very grateful.