Youth looked for the perfect gifts with their local law enforcement Thursday, part of Marshfield Police Department’s first ever Shop with a Cop.
The national program is designed to foster a positive relationship between law enforcement and youth. Funded by Marshfield Professional Police Association and Walmart, Shop with a Cop brought together ten children who were selected to benefit from the program.
Each received $100, half to spend on themselves and half to buy gifts for others. Officers from Marshfield Police Department partnered with the children and helped them find what they were looking for, afterwards enjoying a meal together at Subway.
“This is an opportunity for the selected children to not only have a positive interaction with law enforcement, but to be able to pick out holiday gifts for themselves and family members that they may not have otherwise been able to do,” said Julie Leu-Martinek, organizer and School Resource Officer.
It’s also an opportunity for youth to see that their local officers are approachable.
“If I could put it on a giant billboard, I would say I wish parents would stop telling their kids to ‘look out’ or ‘they’re going to get you,'” said Officer Jamie Kizer. “We want kids to be able to come to us.”
As Kizer shopped together with James, who looked for items for his mom and two younger siblings, a mother approached with her two young kids to illustrate that very lesson – to show them that officers weren’t people to be scared of and could help when needed.
While Kizer is unsure of the exact reason for why people are afraid of officers, he believes that events like Shop with a Cop make a difference toward breaking down those barriers.
The department plans to continue Shop with a Cop and expand the program in the years to come.