PERALTA, NM — A detective sergeant here has teamed up with the Washington state-based charity, Officer Needs Assistance Fund, to create a vending outreach program. Sergeant Paul Szych, who is both a law enforcement officer and a bulk vending operator, saw a need to help police officers disabled in the line of duty and formed the Officer Needs Assistance Vending Outreach Program.
According to Szych, he first hit on the idea after watching an episode of the popular TV show Dr. Phil, which detailed the financial hardships suffered by Oregon deputy Jason Rehling. “Deputy Rehling had been shot in the face with a shotgun while on a domestic violence call,” explained Szych. “As a result of this incident, Rehling’s family was in jeopardy of losing everything they owned due to the lack of available money for police officers disabled in the line of duty.
“I thought to myself, I have been a police officer going on 14 years. My father, Ron Szych, was a police detective in Michigan for 20 years, and I’ve been in the vending business for over 10 years. Who better than me to unite the law enforcement and vending communities toward this just cause?”
In many jurisdictions, Szych explained, disability pay for officers permanently disabled in the line of duty falls far short of providing for the basic needs of officers and their families. In some instances, the amounts received can total little more than a few hundred dollars per month. The Officer Needs Assistance Fund, originally started by Deputy Rehling’s father, Dan, to help care for his son, has expanded its scope to assist injured law enforcement officers across the country. The charitable effort now intends to coordinate emergency support for law enforcement officers and their families in order to provide emergency funds through law enforcement support groups. The intent is to assist police officers disabled in the line of duty to financially get back on their feet again.
“It’s so important what Paul is doing,” said Dan Rehling. “The vending outreach program is really a stroke of genius that could make a difference in so many disabled officers’ lives.”
As with other vending outreach programs, participating operators will receive a 3-in. x 4-in. self-adhesive label to display in their machines. Monthly royalty rates are currently set at $1.50 per month, per label, for bulk vendors with 1 to 50 labels, and the price drops to $1.25 per month, per label for operators with 50-plus labels. According to Szych, 80% of all net proceeds from the effort will go directly to the Officer Needs Assistance Fund based in Olympia, WA.
Another unique feature of this vending outreach is that it is open to full-line vendors as well. The royalty rate for full-line operators is set at $3.00 per month, per label, with the more-than-50 machine rate dropping to $2.50 per month, per label.
“I think that business owners are going to be more willing to work with operators in the placement of equipment, and parents will be more willing to allow their children to [purchase] from a machine displaying the ONAVOP logo,” said Szych. “People want to assist our communities’ heroes and this is a way for them to do so.”
Szych believes that operators may also find local, state and federal facilities more open to companies that support disabled law enforcement heroes. “After a police officer is disabled while giving their all in service to their community, they should not have any more taken from them,” said Szych. “Police officers answer this nation’s calls for help every day; this is your chance to answer theirs.”
Szych is currently running the program, but will turn day-to-day operations over to his wife, Melanie, who is also a law enforcement officer.
For additional information on participating in this vending outreach program, contact ONAVOP at tel. (877) COP-4-911, or visit policeofficerhelp.com (scheduled to go live at press time.) Further details on the work and assistance provided by the fund itself may be obtained by visiting onafund.com.