The West Bloomfield Police Foundation assists with various charitable endeavors.

The West Bloomfield Police Foundation assists with various charitable endeavors.

Photo provided by the West Bloomfield Police Foundation


National Police Week shines light on work of West Bloomfield Police Foundation

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 29, 2021

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — One of the first images anyone who visits the West Bloomfield Police Foundation Facebook page may see is a picture of Patrick O’Rourke, who was an officer with the West Bloomfield Police Department when he was shot and killed by a barricaded gunman in 2012 while responding to a domestic dispute.

O’Rourke was a husband and the father of four children.

National Police Week was observed May 9-15 as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifices law enforcement officers have made throughout history. Aside from the sadness and grief that family members of deceased police officers go through, financial stress can also be a reality.

The West Bloomfield Police Foundation was founded in 2001, and it can help relieve financial burdens for those family members.

“The West Bloomfield Police Foundation is an organization that’s comprised of staff that works at the PD, and then some members of the community,” said Foundation President Katherine Roshirt, who is a detective with the department. “Our main goal when we started was to, worst case scenario, offer assistance to family in case an officer was killed in the line of duty. That being funeral arrangements, that being funding for anything that they needed at the time being.”

The foundation can help the families of deceased officers focus more on their grieving and less on financial worries.

“The last thing we want to do is have the families of that officer work through the emotional and financial stress that comes with that,” said Foundation Vice President Alex Harold, who is also a police detective. “So it’s a nice breath of fresh air from everybody in my department that recognizes that we’re there for emotional or financial support, not only for us and our department, but as well as their families, as well as the community.”

The foundation is an ideal way for community members to express appreciation for the Police Department.

“We get a great amount of support within the community, as well as a lot of businesses in the area,” Harold said. “For the most part, it is community members that donate to us.”

The support the foundation receives can extend beyond helping to cover costs after an officer has been killed in the line of duty.

“It’s nice to be able to support and help our guys with whatever, so we also take requests,” Roshirt said. “We’ve helped out in the past people who were paying for medical bills, people who had large expenses or who had a house fire. We give money to them for the immediate need, whatever it is. … People would have to come up with that money, but since we have our board and our foundation, we’re able to assist people with that.”

Since its inception, the foundation has grown to such a point that it can also help support other causes.

Roshirt provided some examples.

“We started doing a women’s self-defense class,” she said. “Every Christmas or holiday season, we’ve sponsored a family in need. We’ve been a part of and have helped sponsor other community events with the Optimist Club, youth assistance, other 501(c)(3)s in our area. … We also do a scholarship program within our department for guys who have kids that are graduating and going to college; we offer a scholarship to them with some sponsors that we have.”

Students who receive scholarships can get $2,500 per year and $10,000 over the course of four years.

From Roshirt’s perspective, one of the most important things the foundation does outside of its own department is host fundraising events within the community.

“We are officers, but we (want to) have fun and get to know you, and you can get to know us,” she said. “It’s called ‘humanizing the badge.’ … Obviously, we know that times are tough for us right now, especially as a profession. We’re seeing that with our hiring problems, and it’s just not a great time for us right now.’”

Roshirt said that the West Bloomfield community has, “overall, been very good to us.”

The support that she thinks the department already has from the public could be enhanced even further with some of what the foundation has been involved with.

“When we can have interactions with them that aren’t negative, it’s better for everybody overall,” Roshirt said. “It’s better for us to relax, to smile (and) to know that even though the media may have us believing that there are so many people that don’t like us, there are still plenty of people that do and appreciate what we do.”

The appreciation works both ways.

“We’ve had so many more people in need during this pandemic, (and) the amount of generous people we’ve had that donated to us, it’s immense,” Harold said. “It’s a huge blessing.”

To learn more, call (248) 975-8917, email kroshirt@wbpolice.org or visit wbpolicefoundation.org.

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