Hundreds of local children got the opportunity to shop with a member of law enforcement on Saturday for the 26th annual holiday event, “Shop with a Cop.”
“I got a sweatshirt and pants and a T-shirt and then I got two toys,” said Belen.
Children, like Belen, are partnered up with a law enforcement officer who helps them with their holiday shopping. The day starts at Sea World. Then, the kids ride in a patrol car on the way to Target, where the kids are given a $150 gift card to buy whatever they would like.
“I’m getting stuff that my friends like and that I like. It’s fun because it shows Christmas, giving and joy and happiness,” said Audrey.
Thirty different law enforcement agencies participated in the event.
One of the goals of the program, along with helping the children buy Christmas gifts, is to build a positive relationship between local youth and law enforcement.
“They get to get in the [patrol]car, they get to use the microphone, play on the radio, it’s just one of those experiences where you want to be able to have kids realize that it’s a fun experience and not always a negative experience,” said Denise Mills, a San Diego Police officer.
While one might expect the kids to buy lots of gifts for themselves, a San Diego police officer said that is hardly ever the case.
“I think the most amazing part --with a lot of the kids is ---you think that they want to get stuff for themselves and get toys for themselves, when a lot of time, a lot of the kids that come in here they’re just getting everyday things for the family – from food to some clothing to just a few toys and sometimes at the end; we have to remind the youth they’re actually getting stuff for themselves because they will get stuff for everybody else but themselves--- and then a lot of times the officer will contribute to getting a gift,” said Denise Mills, a San Diego Police officer.