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Local police giving back through 'Police Lights of Christmas' program

Posted at 9:53 PM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 10:32:49-05

DE PERE (NBC 26) — The Police Lights of Christmasprogram is giving back to the community through those who protect and serve. The program supplies local police departments with gift cards and care backpacks for officers to distribute to those in need.

While patrol officers are out, they can hand out the gift cards if they run into someone in need or just someone doing good in the community. 

“We distribute them through patrol officers working the streets," said Jody Lemmens, a captain with the Brown County Sheriff's Office. "They are able to distribute those when they come into contact with somebody, whether it’s somebody in need or maybe somebody who was just victimized by a crime.”


The program also provides the departments with backpacks full of gifts such as hats, socks and toiletries. This year, the program has distributed over 1,000 backpacks and $165,000 to departments across Northeast Wisconsin.

Katie Connell, the community outreach director for the non-profit radio station Q 90 FM, started the program in 2016 in an effort to improve relationships between the police and the community.

“I know that these officers run into hurt, they run into pain every single day where I know that they’re opening up their own wallets. So arming them with these gift cards, I know they can find people that need the help,” Connell said.


The program has expanded from just two departments in its first year to over 50 local departments. Each department finds unique ways to give back. This year, the Green Bay Police Department used some of their gift cards to help out two families who have a child with cancer.

“All their time and money and effort was going toward the cancer treatments and so we essentially adopted those families, used some of the gift cards with the money that was raised, and purchased groceries not just for the holidays but a week or two weeks of groceries,” said lieutenant Steve Mahoney.

The program not only gives officers an opportunity to help out those in need but also helps them forge relationships with community members.

“This is a way for officers to initiate conversations with somebody who is not currently in crisis or not currently involved in a call,” Lemmens said. “It’s usually shock, disbelief, true appreciation, a lot of tears sometimes. Just very thankful.”

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