Shop with a Cop helps shine a positive light on police in the community

Donations helped boost the number of kids invited to participate this year
By Dan Aznoff | Dec 21, 2018
Photo by: Joni Kirk with the City of Mill Creek Mill Creek Police Officer Scott Eastman had the hat, the laugh and the jolly disposition of Santa as he entertained some of the 174 underprivileged children and their families who shopped for gifts at the Target store in Everett during the annual Shop with a Cop event this month. Five members of the Mill Creek force volunteered their own time to be part of the community outreach activity. Check out more photos from Shop with a Cop in the print edition of The Beacon.

Many of the adults who gathered at the Target store near the Everett Mall were more excited than the kids for Shop with a Cop. And that included the dozens of law enforcement officers who volunteered to help the youngsters spend their gift cards.

More than 170 young people with gift cards in hand roamed the aisles of the store in groups of four under the supervision of law enforcement officers from a  agencies in South Snohomish County. Five police officers from Mill Creek—including Chief Greg Elwin—volunteered to take part in the third annual Shop with a Cop event.

Like the other officers, Mill Creek Officer Chris White came to Target during her own free time. The veteran officer did not come to Everett after her own shift. She took time away from the middle of her own vacation to be part of the festivities.

Last year’s event was limited to only 71 young children under 11 from underprivileged households, many whom had seen a member of their own family taken away in handcuffs by police.

“This event gives the kids a chance to see police officers in a different light,” said Detective Tara Marks. “Shop with a Cop lets kids see us as people who really want to help.”

Donations from the community and local merchants more than doubled the number of kids able to participate this holiday season to 174. This year’s shoppers were selected from names submitted from the women’s mission in Everett, a domestic violence shelter, interfaith agencies, Hand-in-Hand and DSHS.

Shop with a Cop this year included more than 40 young people over the age of 11.

Police officers from Mill Creek were joined by uniformed police from Everett, Monroe and members of the Washington State Patrol. Many of the police vehicles parked near the entrance to the store were decorated with bows, lights and Christmas ornaments.

Like an observant police officer, White noticed that the kids took off in separate directions with their $50 gift cards in hand. Some headed for the toy department to pick out gifts for themselves, while others were more determined to find presents they could wrap and give to members of their family on Christmas morning.

Chief Elwin wore his reindeer ears and a huge smile while he strolled the aisles filled with young shoppers and stepped in to approve many of the purchases.

“This is the kind of duty every police officer wants to draw,” Elwin said as he shared some pizza and soda with the excited shoppers after they had checked out with their merchandise.

Some of the Mill Creek officers reached into their own wallets to cover the difference when some of the young shoppers came up short at check out.

 

The officers tried their best not to comment on merchandise the youngsters picked out as they followed their charges around the store lugging baskets filled with the gift items.

Detective Marks did questioned one young person’s decision. She looked on with astonishment when a young boy emptied his cart filled with toys in trade for one purple game controller.

“Are you sure,” she asked with a smile? “If that’s really what you want, it’s okay with me.”

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