Home Opinion Editorials Shop with Cop builds bridges of trust
Shop with Cop builds bridges of trust
It’s sad but true: kids often grow up with a negative view of police
officers. Peers or family members who may have had a brush with the law
don’t always have nice things to say about the cops, and impressionable
youngsters get wrong ideas.
Day to day, police officers face many difficult challenges. Overcoming that negative picture formed in young minds is one more. This Christmas season, the La Grande Police Department took a proactive step in that direction.
Sgt. Scott Franks and Det. Jason Hayes were prime organizers in the LGPD’s first-ever “Shop with a Cop” event, held Dec. 9 at the Island City Walmart. Joined by fellow officers and 9-1-1 dispatchers, the two have started something that will go a long way toward building good community relations. Fourteen local youngsters were treated to an afternoon of holiday shopping, each accompanied by an officer. They got to ride to the store in police vehicles, shop and eat lunch at Subway.
They went home with Christmas gifts for their parents and siblings, gifts they probably wouldn’t have been able to buy otherwise. The gifts were wrapped at the store by 9-1-1 dispatchers.
Though Franks and Hayes organized the program, it wouldn’t have come off without financial help from the community. Walmart, which sponsors similar programs across the nation each holiday season, took the lead by chipping in a $1,000 grant.
Other helpers included Connor Graphics, McDonald’s, R.D. Mac, Subway, Terry Hughes Insurance and the La Grande Rural Fire Department. Kevin Loveland, owner of Loveland Funeral Chapel, sprang for lunch.
The high level of support isn’t surprising because in La Grande and Union County there’s never a
shortage of caring people — especially at Christmas time.
Everybody who participated in this event deserves cheers. They’ve brightened the holidays for this group of kids, and impacted the whole community in a positive way.
Youngsters begin hearing stories about cops-as-bogeymen at an early age, and they form prejudices that become increasingly difficult to break down. The job of law enforcement becomes that much harder.
After the event at Walmart, these kids will be taking such stories with a grain of salt. First-hand, they will have seen that police officers are not enemies, but friends.