The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will be able to purchase some needed safety equipment to help prevent another tragedy like the deadly shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse this past summer, thanks to community donations totaling $52,229.
The fundraising effort began as a response to the July 11 shootings courthouse that ended in the deaths of two Berrien County Court Security Officers and left one Deputy wounded, according to Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey.
After a meeting with Sheriff Paul Bailey to determine department needs that could help prevent something similar in the future, The Berrien Community Foundation issued a $5,000 challenge grant to the community to help fund the purchase of plate carrier bullet proof vests, Level III security holsters and weapon mounted flashlights.
“This community is so generous,” said Cripps-Downey. “People gave in so many ways. The gifts ranged from $5 to $6,000. People sent in not just checks, but letters of condolence to the Sheriff’s Office and thank you notes for what they do for Berrien County.”
A community run hosted by the SWMI Racers raised over $6,000 for the cause. Restaurants hosted give back nights and high school students from the Interact Clubs at St. Joseph and Lake Michigan Catholic sold ice cream bars to raise dollars. The Upton Foundation made a $5,000 grant to the effort. Corporations kicked in as well. LECO Corporation, Whirlpool Corporation and Michiana Land Services each made significant donations of $5,000 or more.
The funds raised will fully cover the costs of the equipment.
“We are just overwhelmed with the generosity,” said Sheriff Bailey. “We lost two great men who were also our close friends when we lost Court Security Officers Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle. We want to protect our officers and do what we can to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.”