Trading card project launches
NPD hopes project fosters police-community relationship
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.
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.
Downes Elementary School students compare Newark Police Department trading cards last week after officers stopped by kick off the contest.