If you happen to see a pink Salem police cruiser sweeping through town, don’t be alarmed – it’s just the department’s way of observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Salem Police Department unveiled the pink cruiser Friday, along with a group of 12 officers, civilian staff, dispatchers and families who have been affected by breast cancer in some capacity.
“We are honored to roll out a pink patrol vehicle on October 1," said Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw."We want to show our support for all survivors and the cause of curing breast cancer."
One breast cancer survivor, Detective Kris Knox of Salem police, said the bright pink car offers an opportunity for police to identify with the community on a more personal level.
“I think that this is a great example is for the community to see that our police family has experienced breast cancer and this humanizes our police family to the rest of the community,” Knox said.
Knox started her own breast cancer foundation 15 years ago in honor of her mother, who died of breast cancer. It is the Linda L. Vladyka Breast Wellness Foundation. Knox said the car represents her belief that no one fights breast cancer alone.
“Even for something as fun and lighthearted as a pink patrol car, the battle is tough, but we’re in it together,” Knox said.
Bellshaw said Salem police considers itself a family agency that values compassion and hopes the community will see its department-wide support of people with breast cancer and other illnesses.
Linda Weber, finance manager of Salem police, said her battle with breast cancer was tough, but being a part of a group of survivors at the unveiling was inspirational.
“When you get diagnosed with breast cancer, or any kind of cancer, you just go through a really dark time and you never feel like you can get to the other side,” Weber said. “To get to the other side, and to see other people who have done that, and are doing that, it’s just incredibly inspiring.”
Weber, a self-proclaimed "woman of numbers” since she’s in finance for Salem police, said one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
She stresses though, that as long as the cancer is caught early, there is a 99 percent chance of being cancer free in five years.
Weber falls into that 99 percent. She caught her cancer in its first stage during a routine mammogram.
“With the technologies and medical treatments that we have today, I think it really helps you get through that time,” Weber said.
Weber said she was brought to tears when she first learned of the pink cruiser, stating it’s just another way for Salem police to serve its community.
The cruiser will be assigned to daily patrol use, but will also be available at police events during the month of October.
“Keep your eyes peeled for the car, but if it ends up behind you, you might end up in it,” said Knox with a laugh.