Chief Paul Folz with BCFR Board President Sondra LeGrand
Chief Paul Folz with BCFR Board President Sondra LeGrand
Recently, Spring Grove Police Chief Paul Folz was honored as the 2012 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by Bluff Country Family Resources (BCFR).

Folz spoke with the Herald about the role of the police and advocacy groups last week.

When asked what his initial reaction was when he learned about the award, he said, "When I first got the notification, I thought 'This is really nice,' but when I thought about it I began to wonder.

"To me, awards are for the police officer that runs into a building and drags somebody out and saves their life or someone that does CPR on a person in cardiac arrest."

That may be so, but a prepared statement released by BCFR staff states: "Bluff Country Family Resources recognizes the dangerous aspects of domestic violence calls for responding officers, and respects their assistance with victims.

"Chief Folz was chosen for this award because of his availability to help victims and his thoughtful responses to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

"He takes his job seriously and knows that interpersonal violence is disruptive to a victim's life. He understands that victims benefit from having an advocate and encourages them to take advantage of Bluff Country Family Resources crisis intervention and advocacy."

Folz pointed out, "Our procedure here at the department is if we respond to any type of domestic, we offer to get those victims or anybody connected in the family in touch with the services that Bluff Country has to offer."

Folz added, "If they want us to, we will go ahead and contact Bluff Country and help coordinate that."

Those who refuse the offer aren't forced to take it, Folz added. Many do choose to contact BCFR, however.

Bluff Country staff reported 16 cases that Folz referred last year.

"We do encourage it," he added, "because Bluff Country has services that they can offer that either we can't or don't have the time to do. It's an extended process that they can devote the time to that we can't.

"That's what I believe the police department exists for. It's not just to make the arrest; it's to help correct the problem. There are services out there for people that need them, whether it's relocation or whatever. It's not just the fact that somebody is being criminally abused. It goes further than that.

"If we can solve the problem, then that means that we don't have to go back. I'd rather make a little extra effort in trying to solve the problem in the beginning than have to go back two or three times where something happens, and the problem gets solved in a less popular fashion - somebody ends up in jail or goes to prison - or God forbid, somebody gets hurt or worse.

"If helping to solve the problem can be as simple as me connecting the victim or family members with the services of Bluff Country, I am all for that."

If someone is in a bad situation, maybe they shouldn't wait to find help until after the police are called?

"Absolutely. I would not even say that a person has to be in a bad situation. I'll go as far as to say people can be in an unwanted situation. They're not happy. There are services out there to help people get back on track, and that goes beyond domestic abuse.

"I would have to say there's probably a lot of people who don't (find help), whether it's just pride or a lack of knowledge that it exists.

"If somebody has a situation and we might be able to offer an avenue to help them, the police department number is there. The sheriff's department number is there. That's what we're here to help with."