MADERA COUNTY – A group of dedicated and determined citizens has created a new way for residents to support the work of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Foundation – a 501(c)3 established to fill essential needs not funded through the County budget – has launched their new website, and invites everyone to check it out and see what they can do to lend their support.
The stated mission of the Foundation is to “promote civic spirit in support of law enforcement and to enhance the ability of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office to work even more safely and effectively.”
Amy Varney, wife of Sheriff Jay Varney, has always been an active supporter throughout her husband’s career, and understands the challenges faced by law enforcement departments, especially in Madera County.
“This began with the notice of a need,” says Amy, who is serving as vice-chairman of the Foundation. “No matter how good the County budget is, there’s always a need for additional funding to provide special equipment and training for the deputies and volunteers.”
She refers to the phrase “I’ve got your six,” which, in cop parlance, means “I’ve got your back.”
“The Foundation wants to let the deputies, Citizens on Patrol, Search and Rescue, Explorers and volunteers know that we’ve got their back, and to support and encourage them, and let them know how much they mean to the community.”
She also wants to encourage young men and women to consider law enforcement as a profession.
“It’s been a tough year for police all across the county, but we want young people to know that this is a good profession,” says Amy. “We want to encourage students to look at law enforcement as a career, and to come back and work in Madera County.”
About a year ago, Amy joined forces with Don Dufer – owner of Renaissance General Restoration and resident of Madera Ranchos – and started moving forward with plans for the Foundation, applying for a 501(c)3.
In September 2016, Amy began making the rounds of county businesses, asking them to become spearhead sponsors to begin funding the Foundation. She made her own personal car available and had it wrapped with all their logos. That infusion of cash was a big boost in getting the Foundation off to a healthy start.
People may have seen the car around the county, as it’s being driven every day – often by Sheriff Varney – and shows up at community events, schools, car shows, and in parades.
Amy says there are many different levels at which people can support the Foundation and their important work.
There are individual memberships starting at just $35 a year, with a 50 percent discount for seniors. There are also business membership levels, and the option to make a one-time donation of your choice.
People can also choose that their donation go directly to the program they wish to specifically support:
These scholarships will support the advancement of Madera County youth and adults in law enforcement related careers, including support for two year and four year degree programs, Law Enforcement Academy attendance, and advanced certificate and degree training that will improve public safety and law enforcement in Madera County. Funding in this area will assist with these educational pursuits.
With the decline of resources available through federal surplus, and the constant improvements in technology, it will be necessary for the Sheriff’s office to access financial support for acquisition of small and large long term assets. These would include, for example, funding for upgraded night vision equipment, improving camera connectivity to remote commercial and government sites to improve infrastructure and site safety countywide, and to secure funding for a replacement for the current SWAT vehicle. Funding in this area will support these needed upgrades. Equipment upgrades for first responder first aid readiness, Explorers, equipment for Citizens on Patrol and advanced Search and Rescue readiness may also be funded from support here.
K9 Team Support
K9 teams provide additional safety, and detection, and community engagement options for Sheriff’s Office personnel. Ongoing annual cost for medical care, continuing training, and replacement cost for equipment and the K9s themselves will be provided or augmented by the Foundation. Funding in this area will make this happen.
Training & Community Engagement
Training demands for law enforcement personnel are continuous. Promotions, new hires, technological improvements, and legal mandates create this demand for best practice implementation and compliance. Additionally, volunteers from the Explorer, Citizen on Patrol, and Search and Rescue ranks must raise their own funding for many of the opportunities for training and improvement they participate in. Funding in this area will assist in providing this training, as well as presenting opportunities for the Sheriff’s Office to engage the community in positive ways.
With so many ways to participate, Amy is sure there’s something that will work for everyone.
“We encourage everyone in Madera County to get on board, become a member, let our deputies and volunteers know “we’ve got their six,” we support them and appreciate them in so many ways.”
Sheriff Varney is not a board member of the Foundation, but has been a proponent since SNO first interviewed him during the 2014 campaign.
“This goal has been accomplished,” says the Sheriff. “We look forward to what the Foundation is able to accomplish through community support in the four areas we are focusing on.”
It is important to note that all Foundation officers and board members volunteer their time and there is no paid staff or contract staff.