WASHINGTON – Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a local man in Yakima, who recently came back to America from Ukraine after a forced evacuation, felt he wanted to help.
“They have great hearts, they’re good people,” said Eric Siweck, Sr. Law Enforcement Adviser in Yakima for the Department of Justice. “Hard-working people, they’re very resilient and this is why you see the things on the news where they are pushing back on this invasion… I just think the world of them.”
Siweck was sent over to Ukraine in August 2019 to help teach local officers crowd tactics.
He signed a one-year contract but ended up staying 2 1/2 years in Ukraine because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
February 10, 2022, Siweck was told to immediately evacuate the country by the U.S. Embassy due to the invasion from Russia.
“I don’t think anybody thought it would be like this when it first happened,” said Siweck. “Before I left the country in February, the talk was that they were going to find a solution, it wasn’t going to be this bad, but clearly this turned out to be just a nightmare for the people still in Ukraine.”
Siweck built close relationships with the Ukrainian people, reminiscing on things like the Mayor of Kyiv in Ukraine, Vitali Klitschko, singing happy birthday to him at a gym in 2021.
So, he wanted to help his fellow law enforcement colleagues get the supplies they have been needing.
“I worry about each and every one of them,” said Siweck. “Some of them have left Ukraine, some of them are still there. Most of them are in the west waiting for this to kind of calm down.”
That’s why he’s asking the community to help donate supplies. Siweck said he is looking for things like chest seals for officers, rolled gauze, gloves, and trauma kits.
“It doesn’t have to be brand new stuff, it could be stuff that’s surplus, stuff that might be expired or close to being expired,” said Siweck. “Trauma kits, any kind of police surplus supplies that we can send over there would be extremely beneficial.”
Siweck has partnered with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office to collect these items. Even though there has been a large number of donations so far, he’s asking for more because he knows his Ukrainian colleagues are doing more than just policing.
“At one point they had 7,000 calls for service,” said Siweck. “But, they are also doing search and rescue, you’ll see them on TV helping people on stretchers and they’re also in a war zone.”
Siweck said he was a law enforcement officer for 37 years before his current position, and he sympathizes with Ukrainian law enforcement.
“Being a police officer with a family, working in a war zone, going to work, they work 12-hour shifts. Some of them, obviously many of them are not getting a day off, there’s just nowhere to go,” said Siweck. “The psychological stress they’re facing, I can’t imagine. I was in law enforcement for 37 years before I did this and the stresses that you face are there. I just can’t imagine going to work every day worrying about your family, your colleagues, and functioning in a war zone.”
If you would like to donate supplies to Ukraine, here’s how you can help:
1. Money donations:
Can be made to the Washington State Fraternal Order of Police. They will use the donations to purchase humanitarian supplies, food, clothes, and trauma kits. The donations will help package and ship supplies.
Online donations can be made HERE.
Checks may be sent to:
Washington State FOP Attn: Ukraine Fund
2839 W Kennewick Ave, #356 Kennewick, WA 9936 3.
2. Drop off donations:
Ship to or drop off donations at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
North American Rescue Trauma Kits
Phone (888)-689-6277 / Item PN: 85-0701
Items in need for trauma kits: Tourniquet, Chest Seal, Dressing, Rolled Gauze, Gloves, etc.
Benton County Sheriff’s Office Attn: Helping Ukraine
7122 W Okanogan PI, #A120 Kennewick, WA 99336
3. Letters and Notes of Encouragement:
Written notes of encouragement or artwork for Ukraine Police Officers are also being gathered. Send any notes or artwork from you, your kids, or your grandkids to Lieutenant Jason Erickson, Benton County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer.
(509) 735-6555, or email: [email protected]