Cambridge Police hosts Shop with a Cop program

CAMBRIDGE — Two groups of children were escorted to Walmart last week by the Cambridge Police Department, and they arrived in style. A line of police cars pulled up out front, with lights blazing and Jingle Bells playing across the P.A. systems.
The occasion was the annual Shop with a Cop program, a nation-wide program supported by many law enforcement departments across the country.

Local businesses sponsored the day, with donations principally by Dorchester County Care and Share, Walmart, Choptank Electric and C&W Contractors.

The kids who took part in the program were from the three elementary schools in Cambridge, chosen by the guidance department of the schools. Each of the kids was picked up at home by a uniformed officer, and given a police escort to the store.
On arrival at the store, each child was given a $50 gift card and was accompanied by an officer as they shopped. There were careful decisions made, and lots of toys examined and bought. One of the children had a list, and made sure to get something for each of her family members. Some of the kids looked overwhelmed, but they were enjoying themselves. One was even spotted having a laser sabre fight with a Cambridge detective.

With all the negativity that exists here, this gets us off to a great start,” said Pfc. John Foster. “It’s a good thing.” Mr. Foster went on to say that Cambridge P.D.’s policy of community policing is warming up the local community to the cops, and that involving more of the force with Shop with Cops is breaking down barriers as well. “Little by little, we’ll etch away and get them all on board,” Pfc. Foster added.

“Today also, we went around town randomly and gave out gifts,” said Pfc. Foster. He said that the Christmas spirit was contagious, that some folks saw them shopping with the kids yesterday and donated money on the spot.

30 local kids took part in the Shop with a Cop program, 15 on Wednesday and 15 more on Thursday. This is the first year that Cambridge has participated in the national program, and the officers we spoke to were already looking forward to next year.
“I think the kids see us as Santa Claus this year,” said Sgt. Antoine Patton. “Normally they think of us in a negative way because they see us arresting people in the community. Today we’re Santa Claus! They are enjoying themselves and having a wonderful time.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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