Recently, Dr. Michael Janssen, the owner of Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, generously purchased protective vests for the Saratoga Police Department. Unfortunately, the police department did not receive funding from the town council for body armor which is crucial to have in the line of duty. Janssen heard about this and took matters into his own hands. Continue reading to learn more.
Saratoga Town Council meeting when he learned the town did not have a budget for the police armor Chief Ken Lehr had requested. “I like to read what is going on in the community and the paper gives me a good overview,” Janssen said. “I caught a story that the police chief had come to a meeting at the town council and was in need of body armor. I saw that, because the town did not have it in their budget, they were not going to approve his request.”
Janssen did not call the Saratoga Police Department to ask what he could do, he decided he would take action and offer to buy the body armor needed for the department.
“In my practice and my family, we try to do anything to go above and beyond for people who risk their lives for the public,” Janssen said. “We have a philosophy in our medical practice, anybody who needs anything like a spine surgery, orthopedic surgery or medical care (for law enforcement officers), we do everything to help them. Even if it is to get their insurance to approve something or medical access that’s not so easy to get. We do this because these people risk their lives every day. My wife and I feel strongly about helping people in public service.”
Janssen said to help was the right thing to do. “When I read that the police felt they needed it to do their job, I immediately picked up the phone and called the mayor and told him, they didn’t have to look back at their budget to try and find the money that I would buy them,” Janssen said. “If it wasn’t in the town’s budget and if we can help, then we will, and honestly I think there are other people that feel the same.”
Janssen has done this sort of thing before.
“Two years ago, in December, when I came up to do some snowmobiling,” Janssen said. “It was a beautiful day and the guide and myself thought we would be gone for only a couple of hours and we ended up off the trail in deep snow and had to spend the night out there. We were found at 5:30 a.m.”
When he was discovered by Search and Rescue, he noticed the group didn’t have all the resources they needed.
“My wife and I immediately donated $10,000 and two of my friends together gave $15,000 to Search and Rescue $25,000 for equipment that would help,” Janssen said. “I didn’t give them the money because of the rescue, it was because I saw a need that could help save lives.”
Janssen said he also tries to help kids. A few years back, a golf pro wanted to teach local kids. Janssen helped him set up a golf program specialized in help for kids.
Janssen has learned about the plight of many law enforcement agencies from a person he respects. “The past five years, we have been doing major work on the golf courses and I have been using the same company to do the work all those years. The man who oversees it all is named Tom Horn,” Janssen said. “Tom was a highway patrolman for close to a decade and then he was a U.S. sniper. Then he left public service and started this business. His public service record is why I give him business.
He is also the person who updated me about how these protective vests only have a three to four year life span. I called him and told him I wanted to donate these vests and he told me it was the right thing to do.”
The Saratoga Police Chief, Ken Lehr, is grateful for Janssen’s generosity because the protective vests have a life expectancy and old ones are no longer safe to be out in the field.
“The issue is the sweat and salt from the body, the humidity, breaks the vest’s safety down,” Lehr said. “That is why they put a life expectancy and almost all companies that make them say it is six years. Some are only four years […] We have taken an old vest and put in new panels and you can see the difference when it comes to penetration. It is like clothes that you wear, wash it, wear it, wash it. Eventually it breaks down.”
Lehr said crime has gotten more serious in Saratoga in the past few years.
“We have had people pulling guns at the hot pool, recently we dealt with a person who had bomb,” Lehr said. “The job is becoming more and more dangerous.”
Lehr said he has talked to Janssen before and found him to be a down to earth person. Still, Lehr was pleasantly surprised with Janssen’s generosity and happy for the offer.
“We have a line item that says bullet proof vest grant and we always keep between three and four thousand dollars in there, so when this comes up we apply for this grant and we purchase the vests and then send in the receipt,” Lehr explained. “Somehow, this year, the line item did not get put back in there.”
When Lehr realized he would not be getting the money for the protective vests, he started looking at small grants to try and purchase the vests.
“I am not going to put my officers out there in the line of fire with an unsafe vest,” Lehr said. “These vests are tailored to your body and it really does no good to give an officer another officer’s vest because any gap that might be there is dangerous.”
Lehr said he was determined to find the money for the vests somewhere.
“Even if I had to pay for it out of my own pocket, those vests were going to be here,” Lehr said “at least I could sleep at night, because I was not going to send one of my officers out there without one.”
Lehr was so happy when he heard what Janssen did.
“Holy cow, when I found out, it was great. You don’t know what a morale booster this was,” Lehr said. “Not just for me, but all the officers. That someone in the community cared enough to make sure we got safe, protective police vest without digging and scratching for money or accepting an inferior product because we didn’t have the funds; it just meant so much. He really made us feel appreciated.”
Lehr said Janssen saw a problem and he fixed it. For that, Lehr is grateful.
“Once we get the vests here, I want to bring him in for a Council meeting, so he can see what he bought us,” Lehr said. “And then we can thank him in person because sometimes miracles happen.”