OTHELLO — Othello Police Department held its 18th annual Shop with a Cop on Saturday at the Othello Walmart, joining troopers from the Washington State Patrol and deputies from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to bring Christmas cheer to underprivileged children with a shopping cart full of toys.
At the police station, officers paired up with kids selected by referral, whether by their elementary schools or by the officers themselves, and took them in the front passenger seat of their cop cars as they paraded across town to Time Out pizza.
A quick pizza lunch is a good opportunity to break the ice with kids and find out what they’re hoping to get for Christmas, said Assistant Chief David Rehaume.
“We’ve got some kids, and a lot of times it’s the first time they’ve met a police officer in such a way,” Rehaume said. “The lunch is a way for cops to interview the kids and get to know them a little better.”
Between the Othello Police Department and law enforcement officers from the other two agencies, 13 kids were wondering through the halls of Walmart with the boys in blue — or in tan, in the case of the sheriff’s deputies. Those kids perused toys, clothes and tablets with their new shopping buddies, filling shopping baskets with presents yet to be wrapped.
The event is an opportunity to fulfill several different goals, Rehaume said. The department tries to engage in community service, he added, and these relaxed events give the community a chance to engage with law enforcement in a non-enforcement setting.
Funds for the annual event come entirely through donations, bolstered this year by money raised during the department’s No-Shave November challenge. Officers volunteered their time to stroll through the aisles filling up baskets of toys for the kids, and participating businesses and agencies came together to make the event work, Rehaume said.
“We worked with the Othello School District, we worked with Time Out, we worked with Walmart,” Rehaume said. “This whole program is about community engagement, cooperation, and reaching out.”