By Devese “Dee” Ursery
The 3rd annual Shop with a Cop took place Saturday as Troy police took kids Christmas shopping at a local retail store.
Chief Brent Shownes and his officers took 11 children from the Triad School District shopping for the holidays at 8 a.m. at the Highland Walmart. The chief said the event is “by far one of the greatest experiences” of his 29-years in law enforcement.
“Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as they shop is irreplaceable and unforgettable,” Shownes said. “I am supremely proud to be the chief of police for officers that selfishly donate money along with several businesses so that Shop with a Cop can be a success.”
The purpose of the event is to foster positive relationships between youths and police officers. Children grades kindergarten through six are selected each year during the end-of-the-year holiday season to purchase gifts for members of their immediate family. Families are chosen by the Triad School District in conjunction with Officer Nick Elliot, the school resource officer.
Each officer was assigned a child to escort around the store and assist in selecting appropriate gifts for each family member. Every child was given $500 to shop with. After shopping, the children ate lunch, wrapped their gifts and continued to mingle with officers.
According to Sgt. Daniel Lipe, who helps organize the event, this year the majority of money was raised directly by the officers along with private donations.The whole lot of the police department was involved with the program in one way or another. The department raised money throughout the year through their facial hair program, where officers are allowed to have facial hair for a fee.
On top of that, officers donated extra money for the cause, he said.
“I have been part of this event all three years,” Lipe said. “Being able to help them choose shoes, coats and clothes are all fun. The best part is when we use the money left over to take through the toy section. Watching them run around picking toys and seeing them light up is what it’s all about.”
The program started in the winter of 2000. The initial idea started with retired Chief John Harrington, then a senior commander with the St. Paul Police Department, Western District. Along with Arnoldo Curiel, then coordinator of the Frogtown Weed and Seed initiative.
From 2000-2004 the operating support for Shop with Cops came from federal Weed and Seed dollars, a strategy which “weeds”out crime in communities and plants “seeds” for positive change and development.
Lipe explained how grateful he was for the experience and how he loves being part of the community and giving back.
“It’s really humbling,” Lipe said. We get lots of hugs and smiles, along with tons of pictures and fist bumps. Seeing the kids excited and being able to watch them smile and laugh is the best part of all of this.”