Goodwill exhibited during the holiday time often extends well beyond. One holiday tradition that strives to leave a lasting impression is Shop with a Cop.
Juneau Police Department Lt. Kris Sell says Shop with a Cop helps foster good relationships between children and uniformed officers:
“Some of what kids need these days are relationships with adults and someone that they get to know a little bit, someone who’s making good decisions, and so these are just more positive adults to put in their life.”
Several officers from Juneau Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration law enforcement spent time with selected Juneau children before Christmas. Each child was picked up at home by an officer in a marked vehicle and, together, they went shopping for presents to give to the child’s family.
The officers try to make the time with the children as positive as possible. “We talk to them about, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up? What are your dreams?’ We want to talk a lot about, ‘Where do you want to go with your future?’ And, ‘What do you think would make you happy?'”
Nominations from officers help determine what families are chosen to participate in Shop with a Cop. “We get our nominations from a number of different sources, including families that officers just kind of run across,” explains Sell. “Maybe we have had contact with that family at some point and thought they’re getting a pretty tough situation, pretty raw deal.”
Sell hopes the program will create a personal relationship between youth and uniformed officers.
“We want this to be part of kids’ whole impression of these group of adults, that we care about them, we want the best for them. It’s okay to come up to a uniformed police officer and just talk to them,” Sell says.
Shop with a Cop also puts officers in a unique situation. Sell recalls delivering groceries to a family of one of the children, “One of the adult members teared up over just all the food we had brought. It was just a really touching experience for us. Of course, like most cops, we’re uncomfortable with positive emotions, so we ran from the house and fled,” Sell says laughing.
Shop with a Cop in Juneau is organized by the Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association. In its fourth year, close to $2,700 was raised for the event.