According to spokesperson Harley Engleman, the genesis of WE SUPPORT THE BADGE, a collaborative, community initiative that assists area law enforcement in their officer recruitment and community relations efforts, occurred when he read “a simple news article” in a local newspaper in January of 2015. The article described the challenges of recruiting officers for the Bismarck Police Department, and it inspired Engleman to try and help.
“At that first meeting with the Bismarck police we found out how closely all four law enforcement agencies worked together,” Engelman explained. “So we knew if we were going to help one of them, we were going to help all.”
The “we” are PRIMUS, Inc., a Bismarck-based nonprofit of which Engleman is president, and KAT Communications, a local marketing firm.
WE SUPPORT THE BADGE kicked-off in February of this year with the full support of the Bismarck and Mandan police departments and the Burleigh and Morton County sheriff departments. It also has the unanimous support of the Bismarck and Mandan City commissions and the Burleigh and Morton County commissions.
WE SUPPORT THE BADGE is building financial support from local business owners, corporations and individuals to fund the tools and strategies area law enforcement needs to accomplish three main goals: recruit law enforcement professionals to the Bismarck/Mandan and Burleigh/Morton area; enhance existing relations between law enforcement and the respective communities through a community awareness campaign; and create greater awareness among area students about law enforcement career pathways.
“The chiefs and sheriffs emphasize the recruiting need, but as a lifelong resident here I believe goal two is equally important,” said Engelman. “When I was a kid, we knew many of the officers, but the pendulum has swung where kids don’t interact much with law enforcement, and the relationship seems more adversarial. We have to reengage, become partners with law enforcement, and take a more active approach as our communities further diversify.”
PRIMUS set a fund-raising goal of $750,000 to assist with the project. In April the nonprofit announced it had raised $100,000 so far.
For more information, visit www.wesupportthebadge.org or contact Engelman at (701) 224-9208.