It is “The most wonderful time of the year” for the Mesquite Police Department, members of Elks Lodge # 2811, and local residents and businesses as they prepare for the Mesquite Police Department’s annual Shop With a Cop event. It will be “The best Christmas ever!” for the youngsters who are carefully pre-selected based upon their needs and circumstance, and cross matched with other local giving organizations to prevent duplication of effort, to attend Shop With A Cop.
Shop With a Cop is fast paced. Children are picked up from local elementary schools and ride with officers in the patrol cars to a shopping destination. After greeting Santa, the children and their officer partners flood into the store. The search for gifts quickly turns into a game of twenty questions: “Is that a real gun? Can I touch it? Have you ever caught a bad guy?” The conversation soon relaxes and the search for the perfect gifts continues.
There is fun and laughter around every corner. Without a doubt each year there are sword fights in the aisles, a search for sparkly shoes, and a child who wants to buy a pet goldfish. There are the fast shoppers, the slow shoppers, the price checkers and even children who bring along coupons to help offset the cost of their experience. Officers are either led around the store by enthusiastic shoppers who know right where they are going or they may be standing next to a child who is staring blankly at a wall of toys.
Before they run out of energy-both the shoppers and the officers-make their way to the shoe department and then off to look for jackets and other needed clothing items. Shoppers select gifts for family members which sometimes include a small item for the family pet.
Meanwhile, the members of the Mesquite Elks’ Lodge #2811 are in full swing cooking hot dogs, chicken tenders and other kid friendly food. Mr. and Mrs. Claus take their place, pictures are taken, and the children have a quick lunch with their officer before heading back to school.
The day is fun, and it is rewarding, yet the officers are savvy and know that there will be those who will try and return the children’s gifts for cash or store credit. The police department has a strict policy that the gifts are not to be returned, unless it a clothing item to be exchanged for a different size, so at checkout every UPC code is covered with black marker at checkout by a police civilian staff member or a police volunteer.
“This is all about the kids and making a difference in their lives. As officers we see what some kids have to deal with and it is appalling. To be able to interact and connect with them in a positive circumstance can be a game changer in how they will perceive police officers in the future.
“For every happy child we see bouncing around the store our thoughts are turned in gratitude to the members of this community who make this event possible through generous donations to the Shop with a Cop program,” said Chief of Police Troy Tanner.
This heartwarming event is made possible through generous donations made by local residents, businesses, and even visitors to Mesquite. Donations to Shop With a Cop can be dropped off at the Mesquite Police Department, located at 695 Mayan Circle. Checks should be made payable to the Mesquite Police Department. For questions regarding this event please call (702) 346-5262 ext. 6152 or ext. 6155.