Too often, the only contact we get with local police is when we see those flashing lights in our rear view mirror. The staff at Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram held a Meet and Greet with Everyday Heroes event to help ease that stomach-tightening feeling, to show the community a different side of the police and to help raise funds for much-needed equipment.
The bright and airy showroom, usually filled with the latest Chrysler products, instead played home tonight to several patrol cars, police motorcycles and gear. They were accompanied by officers from Michigan City Police Department, La Porte City Police Department and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department. Even canine officer Argo of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department made an appearance, escorted by his human partner, Deputy Robert Greer.
“This was a collective idea that Ben (Flohr) and I had,” said James Parrett, salesman for Michigan City CDJR. “We wanted to make sure that we could do more to help out our local police departments.”
Parrett feels that there is room to do more, above and beyond the state and federal funding that police receive.
“That funding is great, but it doesn’t always cover some of the smaller things that these departments sometimes need. With this program, we are hoping to help these agencies fill in those cracks and get the equipment they need,” said Parrett.
Sales and Leasing Specialist Ben Flohr is proud to be able to help.
“With this program, every time a first responder or one of their family members buys a car from us, we will donate a portion of that sale to help our local police get the equipment that they need.” said Flohr.
In addition to those funds, they will be donating a total of 86 fire extinguishers to the Michigan City Police Department - enough to equip each vehicle.
“We will also be assisting the La Porte City Police,” said Parrett. “They recently received funding from the state to be able to equip officers with body cameras, but they do not have the router or equipment to make those function, so we will be working with them to help them get it.”
“All of us here, we have friends who are police officers, family who are police officers. We just want to do what we can to help,” said Flohr.
“Events like this are very good for the community,” said Scott Clausing, General Manager for Michigan City CDJR. “We try to give back when we can, to build a strong relationship with this wonderful community which has welcomed us.”
Clausing says he feels that the police have gotten some bad press lately, and is hoping to improve that.
“We wanted to host this event, to invite local families to come here, meet with some police officers, and see them in a more positive context.”
The event was one of the biggest yet for the dealership, which recently changed owners and moved to a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility just a few blocks away from their old location on US Highway 20.
“Our new building is over 26,000 square feet,” said Clausing. About triple the size of our previous location. We want to be the first place people think of when they need to buy a car. We want to become a local staple of the community.”
“We’re hoping to meet families here tonight in a normal way,” said Captain Bill Degnegaard of La Porte Police Department. “It’s wonderful. We’re out here in the community, meeting people face to face. They get to speak with our officers and realize that we’re human just like everyone else. It’s terrific. They can see that we’re not just out to make arrests, we’re here to help solve problems and to communicate with them.”
Degnegaard says events like this are a valuable service and give people the chance to speak with police and not feel threatened.
“They can speak freely,” said Degnegaard.
Sally Holt of Michigan City brought her two granddaughters, Isabella 11, and Madelyn, 8 to the event.
“The kids heard about this at school (Marsh Elementary) and they really wanted to come,” said Holt. “They wanted to come here and see everything.”
As Holt’s granddaughters took advantage of the free wristbands, candy, pens and booklets, Holt - a retired Indiana State Prison officer - enjoyed speaking with the officers.
“I think everyone should come here! We support our police and this is such a great chance to meet these officers who help to protect us. This is just amazing.”
Stop by Michigan City CDJR, or visit them on the online at http://www.michigancitychryslerdodgejeep.com.
501 E US Highway 20 Michigan City, IN 46360
Visit Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Partner Profile
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