By JUSTIN MORETTI In April the Warwick Police Department started selling collectable patches as part of their Awareness Patch Program. The first patch the Warwick Police released was designed and sold in support of Autism Awareness Month. More than
In April the Warwick Police Department started selling collectable patches as part of their Awareness Patch Program.
The first patch the Warwick Police released was designed and sold in support of Autism Awareness Month. More than 1,000 of the Autism Awareness patches were sold in the month of April, leading to the patch having to be placed on back order, according to Community Services Division Captain Michael Lima who says that another 300 are on their way.
Lima, who assumed the role of director of community services in January along with fellow officer Sergeant Matthew Higgins, came up with the patch program.
“We started collaborating on some ideas on how to engage the officers with the community. One of those ideas was to try and develop a patch program,” Lima said. “We’ve seen other departments do it around the country, most notably around last month’s patch, the Autism patch. That seemed to be a big hit around the country so that was going to be our first one.”
It was a good choice. The program raised more than $10,000 the National Autism Association based in Rhode Island.
Before releasing the patch, Lima and Higgins vetted several patch makers to ensure that they would receive a quality patch. They settled on the Emblem Authority, located in Weaverville, North Carolina.
For their second month of the program, they decided on a Law Enforcement Memorial patch. The patch is meant to celebrate Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week which is celebrated annually beginning on May 15. The patches sell for $12. The proceeds for this patch will go to The First Responders Children's Foundation, which provides financial support to both children who have lost a parent in the line of duty as well as families enduring significant financial hardships due to tragic circumstances. First Responders Children’s Foundation also supports, promotes, and facilitates educational activities and programs created and operated by law enforcement and firefighting organizations whose purpose is to benefit children or the community at large.
Lima and Higgins were adamant about finding the right charity to donate the proceeds to. They sought to make sure that the money goes to those it benefits and not elsewhere.
“One of the things we tried to do when we developed this program was to make sure that the charity that was chosen was properly vetted and it wasn’t just something that you go online and this one looks good and you pick it,” Lima said. “We wanted to make sure it was worthwhile, meaningful, for the cause and the patch that we had going on. Also, to make sure that, when people are donating, their money is going to a charity that a main portion of that money is actually going to the programs, to the people that are affected.”
This is the first time that a program such as this one has existed at the Warwick Police Department. As of Monday, May 4 the department has sold about 300 of the Law Enforcement Memorial patches in less than a week.
According to Capt. Lima, the department is currently waiting for things to loosen up in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic so that there can be a small ceremony when they hand over the donated money to a representative of the charity they chose.
“With everything going on right now in this world it kind of put a wrinkle in our plans but there is going to be someone from the organization that will come in and there will be a presentation of the money,” Lima said. “We’re delaying the autism one just a little bit because we are hoping in the next month or so we’ll be able to have a smaller type ceremony. The plan is each time to have them come in and have a presentation of the check to them.”
Selling these patches to the public leaves open the potential that those who purchase them may sew them onto their clothes and impersonate police officers, However, Capt. Lima is not worried about that happening.
“There’s a lot of people that collect these patches out there. If you did a Google search or went on ebay or something you’ll see people there constantly trying to buy them or trade them is another big thing that people like to do,” Lima said. “They put them in frames, they collect them. Each patch is different, the Autism Awareness one could be kind of sentimental. For the most part it is a collectable thing. They don’t sew them onto their shirts, it is more of a collection and a display.”
Capt.. Lima said to check on the department’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for the link to the online store that they created for this initiative. The department has at least two more patches planned to be released this year. Lima did not specify what charities and causes those patches will support or what month they will be released.
WPD Awareness Patch Program Site: https://store25184046.ecwid.com.