Black River Falls, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local police department is 'gearing up' to better respond to emergencies like the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Black River Falls Police Department has received close to 25 thousand dollars from the city budget for new equipment that the department says will help them be more prepared in case of a mass shooting.
Police chief Dave Frederick says a gear update is long "overdue". The Department already began purchasing some equipment that will help them respond better to emergencies, like an active shooter.
The Chief says after the Newtown massacre and many other mass shootings that happened in the past year he realized two things: never say never, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
“It was just a wake-up call and we answered the wake-up call,” said Frederick.
The most important parts of the new gear will include ballistic shields and wireless headsets that will help officers to be in constant contact during an emergency.
“I'd like to think it would never happen here, and I pray that we never use the equipment, but it's good to have,” said the Police Chief.
Right now all the Department has in response to something like an active shooter are the automatic rifles in their squad cars and individual officer body gear.
“It’s not something we take lightly. Sleeping over the past couple of months has been a little difficult. You wake up at 2:30 in the morning and think of what you're going to do. And this does help; it's going to help tremendously,” said Frederick.
The chief says police is also working closely with five schools in town, mapping them out and doing threat-assessments; there’re doing the same at the hospital, the court house, and anywhere there is a potential for a large gathering of people.
“We just want to minimize it as much as possible. If anything would ever happen here, to make sure that we don't look back and think: did we do all we could do?” said the Building and Ground Supervisor with the Black River Falls School District, Joe Schmit.
“In community like this, as in Eau Claire, as in anywhere, the children belong to everybody and that's the way we feel down here,” said Frederick.
The Chief says even though some folks in town think the new gear will never be used, the public generally has been supportive of the idea.
“It's one of the things we got used to in the United States, is being safe in our communities and home, and I think we come to depend on it. I think it's a good idea to have extra protection both for our police officers and for our residents,” said Black River Falls Resident Linda Janke.
Chief Frederick says the department will be getting the gear at the end of the month and will begin necessary training immediately.