Trad­ing card project launches

NPD hopes project fos­ters po­lice-com­mu­nity re­la­tion­ship

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

For­get Poké­mon – kids in Ne­wark have moved on to a dif­fer­ent card craze and are gear­ing up to col­lect ‘em all.

Last week, the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment stopped by Downes Ele­men­tary School to kick off its trad­ing card project fea­tur­ing the depart­ment’s of­fi­cers, K-9s, spe­cial units, dis­patch­ers, civil­ian em­ploy­ees, cars, SUVs and mo­tor­cy­cles. The cards have a pic­ture on the front and a brief bi­og­ra­phy on the back.

In or­der to get the stu­dents ramped up, of­fi­cers brought in Kody, a Ger­man Shep­ard in NPD’s K-9 Unit, for a demon­stra­tion. Of­fi­cer Adam Stevens put on a padded sleeve and Kody was or­dered to at­tack. He vi­ciously lunged at the of­fi­cer, grip­ping onto the pad­ding with his

teeth sev­eral times be­fore be­ing told to heel.

The stu­dents screamed with ex­cite­ment, ea­ger to start their own col­lec­tion. Lt. Fred Nel­son joked that they’d have to do some math prob­lems first, but af­ter hear­ing a re­sound­ing “no” from the crowd, of­fi­cers handed out a few se­lect cards, in­clud­ing one fea­tur­ing K-9 Kody.

The stu­dents also re­ceived a starter pack from their teach­ers, but are re­spon­si­ble for col­lect­ing the rest of the 100 cards them­selves. Chil­dren may trade cards with their peers, ask an of­fi­cer for a card when they see them in their com­mu­nity, stop by the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment or at­tend an Of­fi­cer of the Day event hosted by lo­cal restau­rants and busi­nesses over the next sev­eral weeks.

Nel­son said dif­fer­ent of­fi­cers will hand out their own trad­ing cards at each lo­ca­tion.

“So peo­ple will be en­cour­aged to come to some of these events,” he said.

The first 100 chil­dren to sub­mit a com­plete set of 100 cards be­fore June 11 will be given an un­cut poster of the project to take home with them. They will then be en­tered into a raf­fle to win ei­ther a skate­board pack­age from Switch Skate­board­ing – com­plete with a board, hel­met, pads and one-week skate­board camp – a bi­cy­cle and hel­met from Bike Line, or the grand prize of an all-inclusive trip for four to Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando, Fla., with $500 spend­ing money pro­vided by AAA.

In or­der to be el­i­gi­ble, com­plete sets have to be turned in at the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment to be ver­i­fied on any Sun­day or Mon­day be­tween 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The con­test is only for chil­dren in kinder­garten to sixth grade that ei­ther at­tend school or live in the city of Ne­wark.

Prizes will be awarded on June 17 at the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment dur­ing NPD’s 150th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.

This year’s trad­ing card project was co­or­di­nated by Cpl. Adam Mease, Sgt. Greg Mi­colucci, Master Cpl. Will Smith and is the fourth edi­tion of the pro­gram. The first edi­tion was in the late 1990’s, the sec­ond in 2005 and the third in 2013.

Downes fifth-graders Ad­di­son Nel­son, 11, Rachel Gould, 10, and Michelle Mao, 11, said they re­mem­ber col­lect­ing the cards back in 2013, when they were in sec­ond grade. Gould said she fin­ished the con­test with a com­plete set, but didn’t win a prize.

“I still have those cards,” she said proudly. “Ev­ery last one.”

Mao and Ad­di­son Nel­son ad­mit­ted they were too shy to col­lect all the cards last time, but this year they’re ready and more con­fi­dent.

“I think we were half afraid of [the po­lice] be­cause they carry guns, but now I think we know more,” Mao said.

She added that she’s look­ing for­ward to meet­ing the of­fi­cers.

“See­ing what they do and ap­pre­ci­at­ing more of what they do,” Mao said. “I think I was too young to ap­pre­ci­ate them last time.”

As far as strat­egy goes, Ad­di­son Nel­son said she and a friend are go­ing to work to­gether as a team, while Mao will just try to col­lect as many cards as pos­si­ble. Gould plans to stop by the po­lice sta­tion often and col­lect du­pli­cates of rare cards to trade.

The girls said they en­joy the trad­ing card con­test be­cause it gives the com­mu­nity the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with the po­lice and show the of­fi­cers who they are.

“If we work to­gether as a team things will be bet­ter,” said Ad­di­son Nel­son.

As for Lt. Fred Nel­son, he just wants the chil­dren to come out of the project with a pos­i­tive view of law en­force­ment.

“All they see is what’s on TV and what they hear from their fam­ily and rel­a­tives, so we hope they have a one-on-one con­ver­sa­tion with us and re­al­ize we’re easy to talk to and more ap­proach­able,” he said.

NPD also held events to un­veil the pro­gram to chil­dren at West Park Ele­men­tary School and Launch Tram­po­line Park.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

A Downes Ele­men­tary School stu­dent asks Cpl. Adam Mease for a trad­ing card last week af­ter Ne­wark Po­lice stopped by to kick off the con­test.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

Downes Ele­men­tary School stu­dents com­pare Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment trad­ing cards last week af­ter of­fi­cers stopped by kick off the con­test.

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