Cincinnati Police Offer Refuge To Hurricane Harvey First Responders
Police officers from around Cincinnati are preparing to open their homes to the families of officers affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Cincinnati Police Captain Jeff Butler wants to create a refuge for families so first responders can focus on their work.
"The idea of this is to give them a temporary spot that they, while they're dedicated for the next couple of months, that they know their kids are safe," Butler says.
As a fourth generation police officer, Butler says, "What safer place than another law enforcement family? Law enforcement families know what the stresses are, what the dangers are, and they can be there to support them."
Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils says they'll take as many families as want to come.
Police officials from around the area met Friday to begin working out the details. The Cincinnati FOP is leading the charge with help from The Shield and neighboring communities.
They want to raise a minimum of $50,000 to purchase enough uniform necessities to outfit 500 responders with clean clothing and dry boots.
"How do you have that clean shirt each day after you've been knee deep in some stagnant water?" Butler asks.
He says he spoke with one officer who'd been wearing the same dirty clothes for three days.
"He was taking his shoes off every day, trying to let them dry out for three or four hours and then putting those same shoes back on,” Butler says.
Butler says he'd like to see other cities make a similar commitment.
"What I'm hoping is this turns into a national challenge. I'm hoping that through the local media and social media that maybe this idea goes to Pittsburgh, and then Pittsburgh says 'we can do $50,000.' And Toledo can do $50,000,” Butler says. “And at the end of it, for law enforcement, we have a bank of equipment that, dear Lord forbid, the next tragedy we have, we already have boots on the ground and we're ready to go help that agency."
Butler praises aid agencies like the Red Cross and Mathew 25 and says he doesn't want this effort to take away from what they're doing and their fundraising and relief efforts.
"They're helping the millions of people,” he says. “We're trying to focus just on that small segment to get them things that they need, either housing or clothing to get them through the day."
Cincinnati Public Schools is also involved to make sure children can enroll quickly and not fall behind.
"We are certainly willing and ready and able to accommodate families regardless of where they are and regardless of the age group from preschool to K-12," says Pat Neal-Miller, director of family and community engagement for Cincinnati Public Schools.
Butler says he wants everything in place within two weeks. An account for donations will be set up at the Cincinnati Police Federal Credit Union.