IDAHO FALLS – In the wake of Bonneville County Deputy Wyatt Maser’s death, a local pastor wants to honor him by protecting law enforcement.
Deputy Maser was struck and killed by a fellow deputy responding to help him on the scene of a rollover crash in the area of Bone Road and 9th South around 5:20 a.m. on May 18. The responding deputy was unable to see Deputy Maser in the darkness.
Pastor Tim Rupp is looking to protect other law enforcement officials from a similar fate by providing Guardian Angel safety lights.
“Many officers get hit or killed like Deputy Maser did when they’re in the street doing their job and people are unable to see them,” Rupp tells EastIdahoNews.com. “You can put (the lights) on the front of your uniform. The light flashes through the rear or the front while they’re at a traffic stop.”
The lights are designed specifically for law enforcement and to be worn on the shoulder. Rupp says they’re very durable and are visible two miles away. They are easily turned on and off and have up to 10 hours of battery life.
Deputies and other law enforcement officers have reflective safety vests available to them, but in emergency situations like the one Maser was in, Rupp says there isn’t always time to put it on.
“If you have one of these lights, all you have to do is reach up and touch it to turn it on,” Rupp says. “If he had a light that was flashing…this whole tragedy could have been avoided.”
The lights cost about $100 each. Rupp is asking for the community’s help to raise $20,000 to purchase 200 lights to give to Idaho Falls police officers and Bonneville County Sheriff deputies.
Rupp stepped down from a career with the San Antonio Police Department in Texas to become a pastor in Idaho Falls in 2007. After several years, he began volunteering as a reserve deputy with Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, and that opened doors for another type of ministry.
He and others helped form Cop Church in 2017 to help provide officers a place to worship with their families in an atmosphere where they feel most comfortable.
Earlier this year, he formed Chaplains of Idaho, a nonprofit chaplaincy program to support law enforcement and victims during tough situations.
“More than anything, it’s a ministry of presence,” Rupp says. “We will give them the training they need.”
No experience is required to become a chaplain. You just need to be able to pass a background check and get a recommendation from clergy.
Those who make a donation for the safety lights will also be supporting the chaplaincy program.
“We’re asking people to donate,” Rupp says. “We hope citizens and businesses in our community will help us support this fundraising drive.”
If you’re interested in making a donation or becoming a chaplain, visit the website.