Wapakoneta group backs law enforcement

WAPAKONETA — The proud mother of a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol felt helpless when all she could do was lend an ear as her son mentioned he and his fellow officers experienced a noticeable decline in respect for law enforcement during the last decade.

Little did the disheartened member of law enforcement know his fleeting moment of vulnerability during the fall of 2019 would be the catalyst for something much bigger than he and his mom, Anne Niemeyer, could have ever imagined.

Niemeyer received a “Support Our Law Enforcement” bracelet shortly after their discussion, and that was all she needed to spark an idea that morphed into Let’s Back the Blue.

By 2020 Niemeyer started the grassroots response to a decline in respect for law enforcement personnel known as LBTB. The nonprofit works to counteract the lack of respect for officers by showing a community-wide appreciation to the men and women in law enforcement protecting their families and streets.

As part of their initiative to lift law enforcement, LBTB put together a large raffle last year with the help of many generous businesses in Wapakoneta and Auglaize County to benefit local law enforcement groups. The organization used funds raised to offer scholarship money for individuals attending three local police academies.

“We started scholarships for the area training academies,” Niemeyer said. “We gave out $1,000 scholarships at Wright State and Rhodes State and $500 for Apollo police training.”

Niemeyer said LBTB offers scholarships because many people interested in pursuing a law enforcement career have families to take care of and can’t afford to pay tuition costs while taking unpaid leave from work to accommodate their course schedule.

“Today, it takes two incomes to pay the family’s bills. And, now the person going through the academy isn’t getting paid, so we started these scholarships to help families a little,” Niemeyer said.

LTBB’s mission is to strengthen relationships between police and residents across the country and foster mutual respect between the two.

“We have always wanted to make it clear we aren’t here to pick sides or diminish the feelings of others,” Niemeyer said. “We want to uplift our law enforcement out there who want to go out and make a positive difference in the community.”

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Houses like this one in Wapakoneta and surrounding places in Auglaize County remained blue long after last May’s initiative of using blue outdoor lighting to show support for the police.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_back-the-blue-2.jpgHouses like this one in Wapakoneta and surrounding places in Auglaize County remained blue long after last May’s initiative of using blue outdoor lighting to show support for the police. Photo courtesy of Let’s Back the Blue

Families used blue lights on their homes to show support for law enforcement.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_back-the-blue.jpgFamilies used blue lights on their homes to show support for law enforcement. Photo courtesy of Let’s Back the Blue

By Joe Gilroy

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CELEBRATING OUR SPIRIT

Celebrating Our Spirit celebrates small organizations, showcasing examples where the little guys are accomplishing big things. Read more stories online at LimaOhio.com/tag/spirit.

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