The Pink Patch Project Helps Fight Breast Cancer, Raise Awareness
Public safety departments participating in the Pink Patch Project not only raise awareness and money to fight breast cancer, but also develop closer bonds with the communities they serve.
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As first responders, we are in the unique position of interacting with the community during a wide variety of circumstances. While we mostly have brief, passing encounters with the public, we often find ourselves deeply inserted into their lives when they are most exposed and vulnerable.
During times of joy and sorrow, we see the community at its best and, oftentimes, its worst. Each of these encounters, regardless of their nature, presents the public safety officer with the opportunity to enrich and enhance the lives of the citizens we serve.
Nowhere is this unique relationship with the community more prevalent than in education, where campus safety officers have the opportunity to forge deep, recurring and ongoing relationships with staff, students and the campus.
The Pink Patch Project, an innovative public awareness campaign designed to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer, was born from a desire to use the unique position law enforcement holds within the community to provide opportunities to educate the public about the importance of early detection and early treatment in the fight against breast cancer.
1 in 8 Women Develop Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a devastating disease. It does not discriminate by age, race, ethnicity or religion. It is estimated that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, the chances that a woman will die from breast cancer are about one in 37.
Few of us have not been touched, either directly or indirectly, by the impact of this disease. The odds of surviving breast cancer are significantly increased through early detection and treatment, however, and public awareness of this fact is a key component to the Pink Patch Project.
The Pink Patch Project centers on vibrant pink versions of the public safety officer’s uniform patch. These bright pink patches are designed by each of the participating agencies specifically for the program. Officers wear these pink patches on their regular uniforms for the entire month of October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The purposes of pink patches are to stimulate conversations with the community about breast cancer and to encourage awareness about the importance of early detection.
From the program’s humble beginnings with a handful of police departments in 2015, the Pink Patch Project has exploded into the combined efforts of nearly 100 public safety agencies across the nation. This growth includes a diverse group of campus safety organizations from a variety of K-12, community college and university- based public safety agencies.
Pink Patch Project Had Humble Beginnings
The roots of the Pink Patch Project are traced to the Seal Beach (Calif.) Police Department, which, in 2013, hoped to build upon the popularity of the pink ribbon campaign associated with breast cancer awareness by creating commemorative pink versions of their shoulder patch.
In 2015, the nearby Irwindale (Calif.) Police Department took the idea a step further by wearing pink shoulder patches in the field during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and by selling pink patches to their local community to raise funds for City of Hope, a nearby cancer research hospital.
Irwindale PD’s efforts far exceeded the department’s expectations, raising more than $20,000 in 2015 for breast cancer research and treatment. Additionally, the program was widely supported by the community. Thus, the Pink Patch Project was born.
The following year, Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda shared the success of the previous year with his peers at the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association. Several Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies joined the program with intentions of developing their own pink patches.
Over the course of the year and continuing into 2017, the Pink Patch Project has continued to rapidly expand as public safety organizations from across the nation come on board.
As the Pink Patch Project has expanded, a number of school-based police and campus safety departments have joined the program. Like their county and municipal partners, each of these departments uses their pink patches to increase public awareness about breast cancer-related issues and to raise funds to support local cancer research and education organizations.
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