Police to take part in plunge

BERRIEN COUNTY — Two officers from the Buchanan Police Department will soon take an icy plunge for a worthy cause.

Brianna Schmitz, a patrol officer, and Sgt. Harvey Burnett are among the local officers who will be participating in the Berrien County Polar Plunge. This year’s event will take place at noon Jan. 26 at Watermark Brewing Company, 5781 St. Joseph Ave. in Stevensville. Those taking the plunge will be jumping into a pool of icy water. Following the swim, there will be awards and an After Splash Bash. 

The event is organized by the Law Enforcement Torch Run – a grassroots fundraiser that raises money for the Special Olympics. The Berrien County event will help to fund the Special Olympics Michigan, which serves more than 27,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities by offering sports training, competition and health screenings.

Schmitz has worked for the Buchanan Police Department for three years. She said this will be her first year participating in the event.

“Since it was a fundraiser, I thought it would be a good community thing to do and raise awareness,” Schmitz said. “We are really close with our community and very involved in our community and people get to know each officer.”

She said events like the Polar Plunge give officers a chance to be even more visible to their residents and make more casual interactions. Schmitz said a number of local officers are participating, which encouraged her to do the same.

To help with the cause, people can donate by visiting the Buchanan Police Department’s Facebook page. Schmitz said their goal is to raise $1,000. As of Monday afternoon, her page had raised $145.

“People can donate whatever amount they can to the Michigan Special Olympics,” Schmitz said. “I just think it’s a great cause. [Organizers] really want the law enforcement and police officers to get involved.”

Schmitz has always loved to swim – though not in frigid water. She grew up in Galien and spent warm days swimming in local lakes. She later became a lifeguard in New Buffalo and worked closely with the police department, which she said inspired her to become an officer.

While Schmitz said she strategized a few ways to prepare for the Polar Plunge, like taking a cold bath, she said she decided that there is likely only one way to do it right. 

“I’m not sure if anything will prepare me for that cold water,” Schmitz said. “I’m just going to go for it.”

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