The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office hosted its annual holiday tradition of Shop with a Cop earlier this month. This year, the sheriff’s office reached a historical level of support by receiving nearly $20,000 in private grants for Shop with a Cop, more than any year previously.
“Shop with a Cop this year is extra special,” said Sheriff Bob Fletcher. “As a result of strong partnerships and private support, we have been able to increase the number of children and families included this holiday season.”
There were 74 youth who participated and shopped for more than 220 family members. Over 80 sheriff’s office employees and volunteers donated their time and talents to this event.
Locally and nationally, many law enforcement agencies participate in Shop with a Cop. The purpose of this event is to ensure children and families are able to enjoy the holidays as well as foster positive relationships.
“A lot of work happens behind the scenes to make this event special,” added Mike Hankee, a commander with the sheriff’s office and Shop with a Cop coordinator.
In Ramsey County, the sheriff’s office school resource officers (SROs) work closely with school social workers to select youth to participate in Shop with a Cop. Patrol deputies also help select program participants. Once selected, SROs reach out to the families and coordinate the family’s involvement in the program. Traditionally, youth selected are in kindergarten through eighth grade and are at-risk, are economically disadvantaged, or have endured some hardships during the year.
Once selected, youth are paired with sheriff’s office staff and then escorted to Target from a local church in a convoy of marked squad cars complete with lights and sirens. While at Target, youth purchase gifts for family members. Parents/guardians provide the youth’s wish list in advance. Each child is provided an amount of money to spend on gifts depending on family size. After shopping, the children eat lunch, wrap gifts and continue to get to know the sheriff’s office staff and volunteers.
Funding for this program is provided through private grants. This year, private grant support totals $19,500 and includes $12,500 from Target and $7,000 from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Foundation. Food is donated by McDonalds on Rice Street, Davanni’s in Arden Hills, Raising Cane’s Chicken, Subway and Cub Foods. Meeting space is provided by North Heights Lutheran Church.