This week around the country, communities are celebrating their local law enforcement and what they do in the community.
National Police Week runs from May 12 to May 18 this year, and Chippewa Falls will be showing its appreciation in a number of ways.
Visitors downtown will notice blue ribbons on light poles, put up by the Chippewa Falls Police Department Alumni Association, a volunteer group that helps with fundraising and other efforts for the police department made up primarily of non-police civilians.
The lights of the dam will also be lit with blue and the group is encouraging community members to light the front of their houses blue as well to show appreciation for the police.
They also distributed ribbons at the Chippewa Falls Police Department Citizen’s Academy graduation last week, a citizen education and outreach program first founded in 1995.
Chippewa Falls police chief Matt Kelm said the department will also be doing their own recognition and celebrations this week.
On social media, they are highlighting different parts of their staff every day, whether it’s the day shift officers, night shift, investigative and others.
They will also be holding their own ceremony Tuesday for police who have been killed while on duty, and a larger ceremony Wednesday at the Florian Gardens in Eau Claire for the same purpose.
Kelm said that while the biggest thing about police week is recognizing those who have lost their life serving their community, it is also a time to recognize the day to day work of the police officers, which people may not hear about.
“They’re out there 24-7,” Kelm said. It’s “just recognizing them for their hard work.”
While National Police Week gives the public a chance to show their appreciation, the police department has several community outreach events throughout the year as well.
Those include the citizen’s academy, the National Night Out and working with the Special Olympics athletes.
Kelm also noted that while there are occasions where outreach into the community in a non-law enforcement capacity is the point, they interact now in many more ways with the public than in the past.
Through social media, the police have been able to increase the public’s exposure to their work and efforts in the community, Kelm said, in ways that weren’t seen previously.
“It’s definitely increased the accessibility to the police force ... and the visibility,” Kelm said.