Members of the Rhinelander Police Department posed with representatives of the WPS Foundation Monday during the presentation of new knives and flashlights the department received as part of a grant. Pictured, from left: Leah VanZile of the WPS Foundation, Dan Tannah, RPD Chief Lloyd Gauthier, Josh Chiamulera, Pete Wurl, Jake Simkins, Claire Decker, mayor Chris Frederickson, Captain Ron Lueneburg, officer Chad Brown and K-9 Odin.
8/29/2019 7:30:00 AM WPS Foundation donates tools to police department
A group of Rhinelander police officers received a welcome surprise Monday when Leah VanZile of the Wisconsin Public Service Foundation stopped by the station.
When Chief Lloyd Gauthier introduced VanZile, the officers had no idea that he and Captain Ron Lueneburg had something other than a lecture on new technology in store for them.
Once introduced to the "class," VanZile played along with the cover story for a few moments
"It's been a while since we've been over to the Rhinelander Police Department to share with you some new training things that we have coming up," she said. "At WPS, we feel very strongly about maintaining good partnerships with law enforcement and all emergency response agencies. We know that you guys are really critical in storms and things like we had last month. We had wires down, we had trees down, we had stuff just all over the place, electric and natural gas and you folks are usually the first on the scene to keep the public safe, keep them away from the downed power lines or gas blowing."
She said the utility wants to foster those good relationships with free training and, more importantly, by helping them with their equipment needs.
"We're happy to be here today face-to-face, building those relationships," VanZile said. "We have some cool tools that we want to show you guys to get your input on them. Part of our philosophy is helping to support agencies financially for items that you might need for your department."
She then unveiled the knives/tools and flashlights, and asked the officer for their opinion "before we do anything further with them."
"Actually, these are yours," she said as the cover was pulled back from the display. "Through our grant program, which Ron (Lueneburg) applied for, Rhinelander Police Department is one of 27 agencies of about 65 agencies that applied for financing for some tools and equipment for their departments."
VanZile said the foundation understands that the knives, which include special rescue tools in the form of a blade designed to cut seat belts quickly and an edge designed to smash car windows easily, are something the officers would make frequent use of during the course of their shifts.
The assembled officers quickly expressed their appreciation for the donation.
Lueneburg said after the presentation that the RPD wanted to get the most bang for the grant, which is capped at $2,000.
"With pocket knives, all officers carry those, but this is a little bit more," Lueneburg said. "There's a few more tools on there. And the (special high-powered) flashlights, that's a necessity for all the officers for when you're doing searches or you walk into a building and the lighting doesn't work. So both of these will be very handy personal items that the officers will always have."
VanZile said the last time the RPD received a WPS Foundation grant was three years ago and the program has been around for six years now.
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