The founder of a Madison-based technology startup donated 16,000 scarce KN95 masks to law enforcement agencies Thursday, enough for at least one for each police officer in Wisconsin.
Shree Kalluri, CEO of Zerology, said he was able to source the masks, which are in short supply, from global business partners after he realized agencies across the country were experiencing problems procuring protective equipment for public-facing employees.
He had been working on obtaining masks for drivers of Green Cab Madison, which is owned and operated by Zerology, to use to protect themselves as they deliver food and provide transportation to the public.
“That’s when it occurred to me, probably there are more critical needs for these masks,” Kalluri said. “With the CDC saying law enforcement should wear protective masks, and the chance that some communities could have problems making that happen, I got to work on a solution.”
Kalluri began distributing the masks Thursday with the help of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the Wisconsin Police Leadership Foundation. The masks will be given to all municipal, county and state law enforcement.
“Wisconsin’s law enforcement needs this equipment right now,” said Jefferson Police Chief Ken Pileggi, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, “On behalf of WCPA and the law enforcement throughout the state of Wisconsin, we’d like to thank Mr. Kalluri for this amazing gift. These masks will truly help keep our families and us safe.”
Kalluri said this is the time for business leaders across the country to step up and help communities in need during widespread public health uncertainty. He said he hopes his gesture will motivate others.
“I wanted to create a movement,” he said. “As an individual, our means are limited, but if you show the path, my hope is others will pitch in and do the same.”