For the second consecutive year, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Osceola Police Department to sponsor the Shop With a Cop program.
This program may be new to Clarke County, but it has been taking place across the country for close to twenty years. The main purpose of Shop With a Cop is to foster positive relationships between the youth of the community and local law enforcement officers.
“Shop With a Cop is an opportunity for us to not only help families in need, but to try to change the narrative surrounding law enforcement,” said Deputy Lucas Darby of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. “By spending time with these kids they get to know us, get to see that we are not the enemy and that we’re here to help.”
Through nominations from the schools and others in the community, children kindergarten through sixth grade are selected to participate. Every officer is assigned two children that they will drive around the city in their squad cars to local businesses where the officer escorts them while they shop. Each child is allotted $150 to spend and gets to pick out the perfect gift for each family member before selecting something for themselves.
After shopping, the children will eat pizza, wrap their gifts, and continue to get to know the police officers. The parents then come pick up their children, the presents, and a box full of food to have a complete Christmas meal together, as a family.
A grant through Clarke County Development Corporation will help the program expand the number of children they can serve but help from the community is still needed.
Nominations are being accepted through November 30 to identify children and families who could most benefit from the program. Once all applications are received, officers will select the recipients based on need on availability of funds. Last year, Shop With a Cop was able to serve 32 children and they hope to continue to grow that number this year.
“Programs like this are a fantastic way to address any negativity that surrounds law enforcement across the nation,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the CCDC. “The CCDC is proud to be a part of this program and support our officers as well as the families they serve in our community.”
The goal of the program is to provide a family Christmas experience for those children and families who may be struggling to provide one on their own, as well as bolster the foundations of a positive relationship between law enforcement and the Clarke County community.