MIDLOTHIAN – The Midlothian Police Department is moving into its second year offering its Shop with a Cop program for the holidays.
According to Midlothian Police Department Crime Prevention/Community Affairs Officers Christopher Douglas, who is responsible for the program, along with officer Scott Hughes, the program primarily uses The Heights in Ellis County to choose families to assist.
The Heights is a non-profit organization that helps victims of family violence; the other organization that offers names to the Midlothian Police Department for possible holiday family assistance is Manna House.
Douglas said, “Typically, we’ll get at least 10 to 12 kids from The Heights for Shop With A Cop, then the Manna House families for our Blue Angel Tree.”
The idea and event of Shop With A Cop has existed for several years, and Douglas said the Midlothian Police Department had wanted to do it for quite some time.
“It is something we have wanted to do for a while,” Douglas said. “As we have grown as a department and built many awesome relationships within our community, especially with our businesses, we have made this event in our city a reality.”
Once the Police Department receives the names of the families, they set up the day and time for all to meet for the holiday shopping excursion. They begin early on a Saturday morning and shop, allowing the families to choose the items they want within the Shop with a Cop budget.
“We have joined forces with our local Wal-Mart, who has been one of our biggest supporters and contributors all year,” Douglas explained. “Wal-Mart will donate any Christmas decorations and supplies to us the day before the event to decorate as many shopping carts as we need for the families to use the following day. The kids love this part.”
Douglas said since there are typically at least ten children, they offer at least a $150 gift card per child.
Much of the money used for the Midlothian Police Department’s Shop with a Cop comes from the officer’s pocket. The Midlothian Police Officer Association also donates $500 towards the event, and the remainder comes from the chiefs and lieutenants, Douglas and Hughes.
“The Shop With a Cop event epitomizes community-based policing,” Midlothian Asst. Police Chief Scott Brown said. “It is one of our most special outreach opportunities in our agency. Midlothian is a very giving and supportive community, and we are happy to be able to do our part.”