No one enjoys paying fines. For families living in poverty, a citation can add a devastating blow to an already tricky financial situation.
The Oshkosh Police Department recognizes hardship requires community response, and has partnered with Jake’s to fulfill low income families’ basic needs through its Community Crisis Closet; Jake’s My Neighbor Wisconsin program provides many of the items distributed.
Imagine a police officer pulls over a driver for a basic traffic violation and discovers a child inside not in a car seat. When the officer asks the driver why they do not have a car seat, they respond that they cannot afford one, but they need to take their child to the babysitter so they can go to work.
“Now instead of issuing a citation and still not having a car seat for the child to safely ride in the car, a patrol officer can get a car seat from the Community Closet and help to install the seat in the car,” said Officer Katie Mann. “Car seats are one of the many needed items for families in Oshkosh. Having new car seats on hand to give out to families that patrol comes in contact with has been very useful.
“The Community Crisis Closet has helped a lot of families this past year,” Mann continued. “We have given out food items, clothing, bedding, shoes, hygiene items, car seats, etc to people in need.”
Mann said the department has provided supplies to the schools to help students in need, and also has worked with various organizations to support refugee families.
“Having these items on hand and readily available has been so helpful,” she said. “Being able to give these new supplies to those in need in our community has helped us to continue to build strong and positive relationships between the police department and the community that we serve.”
Here are a few other examples of when a police officer might leverage resources through the Community Crisis Closet:
- There is a house fire at 3 AM in the morning in January. A family flees the home only wearing their pajamas- no shoes, coats or extra clothing. The family is now displaced from their home and is in need of basic clothing, food and hygiene items.
- A patrol officer is on routine patrol at 1:00 AM and locates a homeless individual. They are in need of various items, especially a winter coat and winter gloves to keep them warm.
- A car accident in which the vehicle is heavily damaged and the car seat is no longer usable. The driver tells the patrol officer that was the only car seat that the family has (they have to share it among the various vehicles) and they can’t afford to purchase another one. A patrol officer can get a car seat from the Community Closet to give to the family as well as any other items that would need to be replaced due to this accident.