Fall River, Massachusetts', police officers have a new gym to work out in, thanks to the generosity of the Rev. Robert Lawrence.
Lawrence, pastor emeritus of First Congregational Church in Fall River, helped secure $25,000 through the Donaldson Trust Fund to pay the bulk of renovating the Fall River Police Department's new gym, which was dedicated Friday.
"It's a gift of life, I'd say," Fall River Police Chief Dan Racine said during a Friday afternoon press conference.
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Six months ago, Racine said police officers told him that the gym was "falling apart" and the equipment was badly outdated. Racine said the police department did not have $31,000 in its budget for the necessary upgrades.
But when the Fall River Police Memorial Trust Fund pitched in $6,000, Racine said he reached out to Lawrence, a staunch supporter of the police department who over the years has helped secure funding to provide six police dogs to Fall River. Lawrence came through again, and helped provide the money for a new gym.
"We're very appreciative to Rev. Lawrence," Racine said.
Lawrence on Friday talked about the connection between mind, body and spirit in his remarks about why the new gym is important for police officers, who he commended for serving the community.
Mayor Jasiel Correia II also joined Lawrence in unveiling a new plaque on the gym's front door. The plaque honors Lawrence for his dedication to the Fall River Police Department, and says he is an inspiration "of how a meaningful life is achieved, not only through personal success, but in service to others."
During the afternoon ceremony, members of the Fall River Police Department's Emergency Services Unit lifted weights and trained in use-of-force techniques to subdue criminal suspects. Police officer Kevin Lopes said the new gym was badly needed, adding that some of the old equipment was from the 1970s and '80s.
Open for about a month now, the new gym has modern equipment, new weights and a fresh coat of paint, and a large matted area for training exercises.
"It's been a big blessing for us," Lopes said. "It means a lot for us, not only as a team, but as an entire department."