Chil­dren get po­lice es­corts for shop­ping ex­cur­sion

Of­fi­cers, youth team up for hol­i­day spend­ing spree

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Peo­ple came run­ning to watch as dozens of po­lice cars, their lights flash­ing and sirens blar­ing, pulled into the Wal­dorf Wal­mart’s park­ing lot. Po­lice car doors opened and more than 75 chil­dren, ac­com­pa­nied by of­fi­cers, went on an ex­penses-paid shop­ping trip.

“It’s the high­light of the year for many of us,” said Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice spokes­woman Diane Richard­son. “The chil­dren are al­ways so ex­cited.”

This is the ninth year the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice has held “Shop with a Cop,” said PFC Col- by Shaw, one of the orga- niz­ers of the event.

The 76 chil­dren par­tic­i­pat­ing are cho­sen based on need and rec­om­mended by Charles County Public Schools, the Charles County Chil­dren’s Aid So­ci­ety, so­cial ser­vice agen­cies and in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers.

Richard­son said each child re­ceived a $200 bud­get. Funds were used to buy win­ter cloth­ing ne­ces­si­ties as well as presents

for fam­ily mem­bers and them­selves.

“A lot of [the] time, the kids will get things for their sib­lings, for their par- ents, and they won’t re­ally care about get­ting things for them­selves — they just want to help out oth- ers, which is nice,” Shaw said.

Money comes from fundrais­ers “Shop with a Cop” holds through­out the year, Shaw said.

In ad­di­tion to sher­iff’s of­fi­cers, Mary­land State Po­lice, La Plata po­lice, Mary­land Tran­sit Au­thor­ity and cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers from the sher­iff’s of­fice also took part in the “Shop with a Cop” pro­gram, Shaw said.

Shaw noted that of­fi­cers vol­un­teered to es­cort chil- dren for the day on their own time.

“It’s re­ally all about the kids, and the of­fi­cers,” Shaw said. “The kids get to ride around in a po­lice car, and who doesn’t want to ride around in a po­lice car, with lights and sirens? Even the adults want to do it.”

Shaw said “Shop with a Cop” gives po­lice a chance to present an­other side to the com­mu­nity.

“It lets kids know that po­lice of­fi­cers aren’t just here to take peo­ple to jail. We’re here to care about them, we’re here to help them, and it’s just a lit­tle some­thing we can do to help make their hol­i­day a lit­tle bet­ter,” Shaw said. “The kids re­ally en­joy it, but the of­fi­cers en­joy it just as much. We have of­fi­cers who have done it ev- ery year since we started.”

Wal­mart depart­ment man­ager Christina Starcher said the store has played host to the pro­gram since its in­cep­tion.

“We love be­ing in­volved in the com­mu­nity, and it’s a good thing for our em­ploy­ees to see what a won­der­ful job the of­fi­cers do, es­pe­cially in this day and age, with so much bad news, to know that there are still a lot of good guys out there,” Starcher said.

After their shop­ping trip, chil­dren were brought to the Wal­dorf Elks Lodge hall, where they were treated to a lunch party while they had their presents wrapped.

“It’s amaz­ing,” Alyssa Par­rett, 9, said of the event. “The best part so far is me stand­ing next to po­lice that I’ve never seen be­fore.”

Alyssa Gar­ri­son, 7, shopped for fam­ily presents. “The best part is the shop­ping,” Gar­ri­son said, adding that turn­ing on the sirens in the po­lice cruiser was also the best part.

MTA Sgt. Aileen Pratt said her fa­vorite mo­ment was “just see­ing the smile on the kids’ faces, the joy of be­ing able to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU Po­lice es­cort their young shop­pers into the Wal­dorf Wal­mart for Satur­day’s “Shop with a Cop” event.

Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fi­cer Mike Han­cock shops with Bran­don Robin­son in the cloth­ing sec­tion at the Wal­dorf Wal­mart dur­ing Satur­day’s “Shop with a Cop.”

Pil­lar Dyson, 12, cen­ter, shops for neck­laces in the Wal­dorf Wal­mart jew­elry depart­ment with Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fi­cer J. Squriewell dur­ing Satur­day dur­ing “Shop with a Cop.”

Po­lice cars pull into the park­ing lot of the Wal­dorf Wal­mart for Satur­day’s ninth an­nual “Shop with a Cop” event.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Mary­land Tran­sit Au­thor­ity Sergeant Aileen Pratt shops with Alyssa Gar­ri­son, 7, dur­ing “Shop with a Cop” at the Wal­dorf Wal­mart Satur­day.

Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fi­cer Chris Becker tries a hat on shop­ping part­ner Brian Har­ley, 10, at the Wal­dorf Wal­mart dur­ing Satur­day’s “Shop with a Cop.”

Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fi­cer John Mick­lus helps Alyssa Par­rett, 9, shop for pa­ja­mas at the Wal­dorf Wal­mart dur­ing Satur­day’s “Shop with a Cop.”

La Plata Po­lice De­tec­tive Robert Nielsen helps Ja­mal Rev­els, 10, shop for toys at the Wal­dorf Wal­mart dur­ing Satur­day’s “Shop with a Cop.”

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