Behind the Badge: Rock County’s ‘First Light Program’


Town of Beloit Sgt. Bryan Hasse is in charge of a new program in the Stateline that aims to give those in need of shelter a warm bed when there are no other alternatives.

“There are some shelters available, but many of those shelters are for specific types of individuals,” said Hasse.

It’s part of a new program called ‘First Light.’ Several Stateline police agencies are teaming up with local hotels.

“It’s designed to be a program to provide someone shelter for the night that has been in an emergency situation and doesn’t have any resources to help them out,” he said.

Those emergencies include situations like an out of town family whose car breaks down in the middle of the night, or an elderly couple with a broken furnace when there’s no one to call.

“This isn’t where we just hand someone a free hotel. We want to make sure we handled all the other possibilities first and this is a kind of last resort,” he said.

Julie Gitezel helped launch the program. It’s already receiving a lot of support from local businesses.

“I believe that now we have a successful track record, we can bring that forward to the other hotels and that will convince their managers that this is a program worth investing in,” said Gitezel.  

General manager Liz Holtz owns the Best Western in South Beloit. So far nobody has used her hotel in a time of need yet, but when they do, she says they’ll be greeted with their doors wide open.

“We welcome them in just as a normal guests and they get access to a normal room with a king bed, or a queen bed with all the amenities and the pool,” said Holtz.  

It’s a simple gesture to help those in immediate need.

“It’s not designed to take the place of any other services like the Red Cross, or some of the other agencies and services available, but this kind of fills the gap,” said Hasse. 

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