It was simply incredible to have the "First Responders of the Year" from nearly every Assembly District in our chambers on Thursday. The first-of-its-kind recognition ceremony proved to be a remarkable display of some of the most courageous and dedicated individuals in our state. The Assembly honored 99 award recipients who truly represent all first responders in Wisconsin.
The nominations were predicated on a variety of factors including a specific heroic action, a significant professional achievement, community work and/or length of service. The award recipients represent the full spectrum of first responders: police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and all levels of EMS providers.
Fallen Racine Police Officer John Hetland was chosen to be honored for the 63rd Assembly District. You may recall his bravery when he stepped in to assist during an armed robbery this past summer and lost his life while keeping the establishment's patrons safe. His family wasn't able to attend the ceremony at the Capitol. We plan to hand deliver the award to them back in Racine County. What a worthy recipient; we are grateful for Officer Hetland's service and sacrifice.
I would like to thank Racine County Jail Chaplain Anthony Ballastari for giving the first responder prayer and for Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling for accompanying him to the Capitol.
During the floor session, the Assembly approved a resolution naming October 28th as First Responder Appreciation Day in Wisconsin. We also voted to provide health benefits to the families of fallen officers and give a tax credit to volunteer first responders. These actions were just our way of saying "thank you" to the men and women who help keep our communities safe.