By TODD ZEIGLER
The average encounter with a police officer rarely takes place in a low-stress situation. That is something Barry Denton is looking to change.
Denton is the executive director of the Louisville Metro Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting the work of the Louisville Metro Police Department. The foundation helps to support the funding needs of metro police programs, staff and equipment beyond what the police’s annual budget provides. The foundation also provides a public relations voice to help people get to know the men and women in uniform.
“People just donâ€™t realize how much these officers do, and a lot of times when people have interactions with these officers, theyâ€™re not the best,” Denton said. “You’re getting pulled over, or theyâ€™re coming to your house because of a loud party. A lot of people just donâ€™t realize how much of a good heart these officers have. Theyâ€™re just there to do their job.”
The Louisville Metro Police Foundation was founded in 2005. Denton came on when first executive director Troy Pitcock, stepped down at the beginning of 2013. A retired officer, Denton also had a background in philanthropy.
Since its creation, the foundation has gone from one employee and a volunteer office manager to a full-time executive director and a part-time director of community engagement and controller to handle finances.
“We have improved dramatically,” Denton said. â€œAs we like to joke, weâ€™ve gone from a crawl to a run.â€
The overall mission of the foundation is to create a safer Louisville. To do that, the foundation works closely with the police department to identify the areas in which the police can use assistance. The foundation has made such contributions as a $26,000 protective suit for the bomb squad and a new dog for its K-9 unit, which cost about $10,000. The foundation was also instrumental in setting up 574-LMPD, the anonymous ccrime tip line that is reachable 24 hours a day.
And there are the various campaigns to put a human face to the often thankless work the police force does every day.
â€œPolice officers are not like firefighters. Theyâ€™re not like EMTs. A firefighter doesnâ€™t come in and arrest your dad. They donâ€™t write you a ticket for speeding,” Denton said. “If you look at the way police officers are, we are on top if something goes wrong. Weâ€™re front page news or the first developing story on your Facebook or Twitter. We do a lot of PR campaigns to promote our officers, to let people know they do a good job. You may hear negative things, but the majority of officers are really good. They have a good heart and are doing the right thing.”
Recent campaigns have asked Louisville residents “Could you do it?” highlighting the dangerous work officers face, and encouraged citizens to give officers the raised-index-and-pinky-finger salute to say “LMPD Rocks.”
Denton said the largest initiative in the foundation’s future is raising funds for a new driving track for police to practice the intense high-speed driving they often face on the job.
“If youâ€™ve got somebody whose in the middle of a shooting or someone in an accident, these officers are not taking their time getting there,” he said. “Theyâ€™re using their lights and their sirens to get there as safely as they can. We want them to have the tools to get there safely, not just for their safety, but for the other people on the road. That’s our number one campaign. It will make for a safer Louisville.”
The foundation is currently scouting locations featuring 30 acres of land on which to build the track.
Denton foresees the track having additional benefits to the city. The police could rent the track to other agencies for training, bringing in new people and new business to Louisville.
The foundation is currently preparing for its largest annual fundraising event, Boots, Badges and Bids, taking place October 11. Money raised there will go a long way toward funding the driving track, as well as the many other ways the foundation helps to support and connect metro police officers and the community they serve.
“Take time to tell these officers â€˜Thank you,â€™” Denton said. “When something goes wrong, whose the first person people call? They call the police. They do so much, and people probably donâ€™t realize all they do.”
For more information about donating or volunteering for the Louisville Metro Police Foundation, go to www.saferlouisville.com.
On behalf of the Louisville Metro Police Foundationâ€™s Board of Directors, together with Louisville Metro Chief of Police Steve Conrad and many of his command staff and officers, a heartfelt thank you to all the sponsors and attendees of the 2013 Boots, Badges & Bids at the beautiful residence of Kent Taylor in Crestwood, Ky.
Boots, Badges & Bids has become one of Louisvilleâ€™s premier charity events. This yearâ€™s BB&B helps to continue the great cause of the Foundation: to support the men and women of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
To learn about sponsorship opportunities and benefits for the 2014 Boots, Badges & Bids, please contact Barry Denton at 502.409.9LMF (563) or email@example.com.
October 11, 2014
Hosted at Churchill Downs