WATSONVILLE — Black and white — those are the colors that most people associate with police cruisers.
The Watsonville Police Department is changing that perception.
Throughout October, a bright pink WPD vehicle will be patrolling the streets of Watsonville, all to raise awareness of a deadly disease during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This year, the Watsonville Fire Department is joining with the police department in donning pink badges for the Pink Patch Project, an effort started a number of years ago by the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association and several public safety agencies in Los Angeles County to support cancer research.
Pink badges are being sold for $10 at both the Watsonville Police Department, 215 Union St., and Watsonville Fire Station 2, 370 Airport Blvd. T-shirts are also available for $20.
During its first year of the effort in 2017, WPD raised $6,193 for the Katz Cancer Resource Center at Dominican Hospital.
This year, the goal is to raise $10,000 for the center, said Police Chief David Honda, and the two departments have engaged in a friendly rivalry to see who can sell the most badges.
“Our goal is not only to bring awareness to the community, but also to raise funds,” Honda said.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, more than 250,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, and more than 40,500 will die.
Fire Chief Pablo Barreto said the money raised goes into a fund at Katz Cancer Resource Center that is specifically for Watsonville residents.
“All proceeds go right to the people locally who need that support,” Barreto said. “This is a great honor to join the police department in this awareness program.”
Renee Aispuro, an RN with the Katz Cancer Resource Center, said last year’s donation allowed the center to continue a yoga class for patients at Watsonville Yoga, and purchase wigs, hats and other items, among other services.
“The Pink Patch Project has helped us so much to obtain special things that patients need,” she said.
The Katz Cancer Resource Center provides free support for patients before, during and after treatment. It also provides support groups for not only patients, but for caregivers as well.
“Our main goal is to eliminate barriers to care and assist patients in obtaining the proper resources they need for their care,” Aispuro said.
This year’s donation from the Pink Patch Project would allow the center to expand programs, such as offer a zumba class for patients, she added.
About 200 new breast cancer patients are referred to the center annually, according to Aispuro.
She advised community members to visit their primary care physicians for an annual wellness checkup, whether they are well are not. Women 40 or older are also recommended to schedule a yearly mammogram, she said, and urged everyone to not ignore things they feel are different with their body.
The badges, which highlight Watsonville’s sesquicentennial and the two public safety departments, were made possible thanks to a donation by a local business owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, Honda said. The pink vinyl wrap on the patrol car was donated by San Jose-based California Wheels.
For information about the pink badges, call the police department at 768-3300 or the fire department at 768-3200.