Local, national law enforcement raising money, awareness for breast cancer

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Several law enforcement departments around the metro are collaborating with various cancer foundations to raise both awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

It’s called the Pink Patch Project. During October — which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month — you might see officers adorned with pink law enforcement patches.

Those participating locally include the Farmington, St. Paul, Rosemount, Lakeville, Burnsville, Hastings, Bloomington, Inver Grove and Saint Louis Park police departments, as well as the Anoka, Dakota and Hennepin county sheriff’s offices. They are selling both patches and lapel pins and the price varies slightly from agency to agency, with proceeds going to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society and the Hope Chest and Angel Foundation.

In Farmington, this year’s fundraiser became personal.

Officer Tom Strese’s wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her honor, a new challenge coin was created. It features her initials, the police department’s blue color and yellow to represent her job at the Dakota Communications Center.

“It’s important to note that each officer sporting a pink patch purchased it themselves,” Farmington Police Officer Chris Lutz said in a press release. “We are proud to wear them in support of the American Cancer Society.”

The project began in 2013. As of 2021, more than 900,000 patches have been sold from at least 500 departments nationwide.

"We’re able to speak to people that are survivors of breast cancer and talk about early detection so that people can go get their check early and bring awareness to such a tough subject in these tough times," Officer Alex Forsman, of the Saint Louis Park Police Department, said.

The proceeds will go toward an officer’s spouse, who was recently diagnosed.

"It’s part of our community mission in policing that we interact with people — and we’re able to give back with this project," Forsman said.

A full list of Minnesota departments participating can be found here.