2023 Cop & Robbers Ball takes on Elvis with “Jailhouse Rock” theme


K-9 officer Bosco is paid for by funds raised by the Community Law Enforcement Foundation. Photo courtesy CLEF

By Marty Cheek

Bust out your blue suede shoes in support of Morgan Hill’s men and women in blue. This year’s Cops & Robbers Ball channels the spirit of Elvis by encouraging guests to shake, rattle and roll with the theme “Jailhouse Rock.”

After a four-year hiatus due to COVID, the nonprofit Community Law Enforcement Foundation brings back its fundraising affair to the Morgan Hill Community Center Saturday, Aug. 26.

CLEF President Brian Sullivan is thrilled with the return of the event that engages the community in the cause of supporting public safety. He promised a rockin’ night of music, food, auction bidding and fun — plus important opportunities to equip and train local officers to keep Morgan Hill safe.

“This year we are expecting upwards of 250 attendees, so come prepared for a great time of fun and engagement,” he said. “As our No. 1 fundraiser we reach out to the community to support CLEF in various ways. You can buy tickets and enjoy a fun evening where you can bid on various items.”

Founded by a group of individuals who had a vision regarding raising funds to support the Morgan Hill Police Department, CLEF supplements the city’s budget for additional items for the safety of the community and police staff, Sullivan said.

The CLEF board of directors and the police administrators meet regularly to review a priority list of items. The nonprofit then makes purchase decisions based on its budget and the rank priority request, he said.

“We’ve helped fund numerous items over the years,” Sullivan said. “Some have been relatively minor in cost, less than $1,000, while others like the Force Simulator come with a cost of $46,000.”

Other purchased equipment includes license plate readers that help officers find suspects to prevent or stop crimes as well as a crime scene scanning device to map out crime scenes or major vehicle collisions.

CLEF volunteers also participate in the popular gun buy-back program, which lets South Valley residents turn in unwanted guns and receive cash.  Authorities offered $100 each for handguns, rifles and shotguns. They gave $200 each for ghost guns and assault weapons.

“The buyback program is important because it helps people get rid of guns if they’re not storing them properly and they don’t want them any longer,” Sullivan said.

One of the most successful support purchases has been the K-9 dog officer. CLEF helped fund the purchase, training of the initial K-9 named Pax and the K-9 handler. Pax retired five years ago. CLEF then funded the current K-9 officer Bosco. Each K-9 has a service life of about seven years. The cost is about $35,000.

“We have an ongoing fund set aside for the next K-9 where we decided about 18 months ago to set aside money to support that ongoing need,” Sullivan said. “We moved $15,000 into that account and every January we move an additional $5,000. That way in seven years we will have the necessary funds available for the next Bosco.”

The foundation’s mission also keeps it engaged with the local community through public events and connecting with organizations, he said. It participated in the annual National Night Out, which took place Aug 2 at the Civic Center Plaza.

The foundation’s goals in the next three to five years reflects the changes in the Morgan Hill community, he said.

“We believe with the ongoing growth of both new companies large and small, and the population increases in the past few years and the projected continued growth, we will have opportunities to reach out and engage with a wider base,” Sullivan said. “Another avenue is to continue to look for additional ways to both engage with that community and make them aware of our needs.”

The foundation’s members also welcome hearing from the community and value their input, he said.

“The community is the life blood of CLEF, and there are various ways that one can be involved,” he said. “Volunteering is a great way for one to learn and engage.  There is the Volunteer in Policing Unit, the Police Explorers, Police Cadets, and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). There are opportunities for all ages.”

The foundation’s involvement with the MHPD provides an effective way to support law enforcement while also making sure the community is engaged with the department for public safety, he said. For example, CLEF supports them for National Police Week and Telecommunication Week as well as when Police Chief Shane Palsgrove holds a Coffee with a Cop as well as other public engagements for people to express their concerns or share ideas on public safety.

“We have a wonderful relationship with the administrative staff as well as the rank-and-file members of the Police Officers Association (POA).  Both sit on our board and participate openly,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan finds his position as CLEF president is personally rewarding in leading the foundation in support of local law enforcement.

“I believe public safety is the benchmark of a vibrant community. Not just the public’s safety but officer safety as well,” he said. “Our board works hard to understand the ongoing needs and find ways to support them.”

Police Chief Shane Palsgrove sees CLEF’s mission of serving to enhance public safety as a reminder that Morgan Hill is a community providing generous support to the MHPD.

He’s grateful for the equipment donated that has reduced incidents of crime, saved lives, and enhanced public safety.

The CLEF board members also serve as “ambassadors” to the community by sharing news of the good work officers do and bring to the police department concerns or problems to solve, he said.

“CLEF has played a significant role in increasing safety in our community,” he said.