’Respect for Law’ ceremony honors officers for serving the community

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Nearly a dozen officers from law enforcement agencies across Brown County are honored in a special ceremony for their work protecting and serving the community.

Much of the recognition is for things most of us never hear about, but one community organization wants to make sure others do hear about it.

“One of the five pillars is respect for law, so for our group, it’s very important,” says Steve Marshall with the Green Bay Preble Optimist Club. “And certainly we feel the same way... that it’s very important that we, as a community, honor our heroes, our everyday heroes that protect us.”

Each of the last two years, the Optimist Club has hosted the Respect for Law banquet, raising money to fund local scholarships and honoring police for their work in the community.

But because of COVID-19, the fundraiser this year was canceled,

Canceling the recognition of local officers was not an option.

“We did feel, however, with the events that are happening in our country right now and even locally that we honor the nominees that were nominated for the awards this year,” says Marshall.

Each agency nominated one or two officers.

Some, like Lt. Chris Knurr at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, are recognized for years of service to the community.

Knurr was nominated, in part, for his work as a bomb squad commander and for training new generations of officers.

Others, like Green Bay Police officers Jon Nejedlo and Kevin Kempf, are recognized for a project with wide impacts on the entire community.

The two officers spent an entire year creating the Rescue Task Force, a partnership between Green Bay police and fire departments to respond to an active shooter.

“We basically built it from the ground up. There’s still work being done on it because it always needs to be improved,” says Kempf.

The ceremony doesn’t come with a lot of fanfare, but at a time where law enforcement nationwide is under scrutiny for its work, the officers appreciate recognition that sheds light on their commitment to public safety.

“It was nice. Especially nowadays it seems like law enforcement doesn’t seem to get recognized the way it should, and there’s a lot of good officers and people in law enforcement,” adds Kempf.

Even without holding the formal fundraiser this year, the Optimist Club is still looking to make donations to keep those scholarships going.

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