By Katie Fallon
Sandy Springs residents will soon have a chance to see their police department working for them in more ways than one.
In addition to their regular duties of protecting and patrolling the streets of Sandy Springs, local police will also take on the role of car wash attendants, albeit for a charitable cause.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on May 12, the Sandy Springs Police Department (SSPD) will host a car wash fundraiser at American Pie, which is located just north of the intersection of Roswell Road and I-285. The event will benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run, an annual fundraiser for the Special Olympics, which brings the world of athletic competition to people with intellectual disabilities. The run is held nationwide, but the money raised by individual agencies goes towards their state’s Special Olympics.
The Torch Run features smaller runs all over the state that include local law enforcement personnel carrying the torch of the Special Olympics. On May 24, the torch will make its way through Sandy Springs and on the following day, the Torch Run will culminate at Emory University for the Special Olympics opening ceremonies.
Sgt. Glenn Kalish said because the police department is so new, it was only able to begin fundraising in February. In just a few months, though, he said the department has raised about $14,000. Money has been raised by doing everything from selling t-shirts in front of Publix grocery stores and having fundraising tables at various community events to charity softball games and direct donations.
“We’re trying to do what we can in this short amount of time,” Kalish said. “It’s pretty big for us to be able to raise this much money.”
The bond between law enforcement and the Special Olympics has been continued within the SSPD because many officers had previous experience with the Torch Run through the departments they left to come to Sandy Springs. Similarly, Kalish said the fundraising efforts let the community get to know officers better.
“I think it just gives us a unique opportunity to help these athletes and to be part of something that’s a nationwide campaign,” he said. “It also gives us a chance to get closer to the community.”
District 2 patrol commander Lt. Bo Eskew said different shifts and units within the department have been encouraged through a friendly spirit of competition to come up with their own ideas for fundraising.
“That is a big motivation,” Eskew said. “We challenge each squad to raise money.”
Other than the car wash and an upcoming presence at the Taste of Sandy Springs on May 19, the police department is also conducting ongoing sales of Torch Run merchandise. Baseball-style caps and t-shirts can be purchased at department headquarters on Barfield Road for suggested donations of $10 and $15 respectively. Checks can be made out to Special Olympics Georgia.
Raffle tickets, an effort led by District 6 patrol commander Lt. Gina Yabuku, can also be purchased at the police department. Items to be raffled off include a plasma television and watch.
When the Torch Run comes thru Sandy Springs on May 24, police personnel will kick off from 7840 Roswell Road in front of the Morgan Falls office park that houses City Hall. The run will then head south on Roswell Road, turn left on Abernathy Road, right on Barfield Road to go past police headquarters, left on Hammond Drive and end at the Public shopping center at Hammond and Peachtree Dunwoody Roads. The start time is still being finalized, but organizers are hoping for a lunch time start.
Kalish said accommodations will be made for as many SSPD personnel to carry the torch as possible. The route will total four to six miles.
In the future, the department will have year-round fundraising efforts at popular community events like the Sandy Springs Festival.
The department hopes to eventually open a “cop shop” to benefit the Special Olympics. Kalish said the public would be able to buy various merchandise associated with the Sandy Springs Police Department, including mugs, t-shirts and even miniature patrol cars.