Policeman’s Ball helps K-9, kids, cops

Police officers often get a bad rap. Many times our only interaction with the local police department involves getting a traffic ticket.

But officers in a small town are your neighbors, local elected officials, members of service clubs and serve the community in many ways which aren’t often publicized. Officer Ashley Guinn said she hopes people will attend the inaugural Exeter Policeman’s Ball, where officers such as herself will be out of uniform and in better than plain clothes for a fund-raiser on Saturday, Feb. 9.

“It gives the community a chance to get to know officers outside of work,” Guinn said. “And it gives the officers more time to talk with people from the community. I’m new and haven’t met a lot of people in the community so I’m really looking forward to this.”

The steak dinner and dance will be held from 6-11 p.m. at the Exeter Memorial Building, located at 324 N. Kaweah Ave. in Exeter. There will be a silent auction, no host bar and a reverse drawing. Tickets will be drawn throughout the night, with the first ticket drawn winning $100 and the last ticket drawn winning $1,000. Entertainment will be provided by the Valley’s premier cover band, Run4Cover, and the dance floor will be open all night.

“It’s right before Valentine’s Day so we think it’s going to be a great community event to kind of fill the void left from the Starlight Ball,” said Sgt. Brett Inglehart, referring to the former semi-formal dress fund-raiser held by the Exeter Kiwanis Club. “We hope everyone comes out and has a good time.”

Sponsored by the Exeter Police Officer’s Association, proceeds from the event will benefit the department’s K-9 unit, Explorer Troop and community service activities by the Police Officer’s Association. Inglehart said the bulk of the money raised will go toward purchasing a third K-9 for the department as well as ongoing costs for the unit including dog food, veterinarian bills, equipment and continued training for the dogs.

“Our goal is to have four dogs by the end of 2014,” said Inglehart, who is one of two officers currently assigned a K-9 along with Officer Mark Durkee. “If we can add another dog before the end of this year we will be on track to meeting that goal.”

The rest of the funds will be split between the Explorer Troop and the Police Officer’s Association. Explorer programs offer youth ages 14-20 interested in a career in law enforcement an opportunity to receive hands-on training and mentoring by officers in their local law enforcement agencies. Explorers in Exeter are often seen helping with traffic control and crowd monitoring at large events in town. They also go on ride-alongs with the officers and learn police codes and procedures giving them a head start before entering the Police Academy. Inglehart said there are currently 16 students in Exeter’s Explorer program. Inglehart said the money is used to pay for uniforms, equipment as well as fees and travel for competitions.

“Our department tries to take the Explorers to as many programs as possible,” Inglehart said.

The least known of the three beneficiaries of the event is the Exeter Police Officer’s Association. Inglehart said the association is a non-profit entity that provides scholarships and Christmas presents for low-income families each year. Inglehart said the association normally awards two or three $500 scholarships per year and sponsors two or three families for Christmas each year.

“We provide toys for the kids and gift certificates to R-N for the parents,” Inglehart said. “A lot of people don’t know about the association or what it is but I can tell you it’s a great organization to support.”

Tickets for the inaugural Exeter Policeman’s Ball are $100 per couple and are available at the Exeter Police Department, located 100 N. C St. in Exeter. For more information, call the EPD at 559-592-3101.

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