Kids shop with cops for better Christmas

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tomorrow, Lewisburg Police are taking dozens of youngsters shopping for Christmas so they have some of the joy that comes with this season.

The program has been going on for about two decades - so long that the people we asked couldn't put a date on it. They were relating to it by saying it was going on when they joined the department.

It's done in conjunction with school counselors who help develop a list of k-6 children. As of Tuesday the officers had 101 kids who would get a toy, game, doll or something they wanted for Christmas. Some of the 101 kids are pre-schoolers who are little brothers and sisters of the students.

They will assemble tomorrow morning at Oak Grove Elementary School and go to Wal-Mart.

It's a good program conducted by people who do it in a way to deliver on the second half of the motto that's become associated with law enforcement: "To protect and serve."

Another police service is the photo identification card that describes kids for officers called to help a frantic parent when their child is missing.

Police will bring the program to a logical place where parents and children are together. A basic description of the child is written on the card. A photo is taken and the card is produced with supplies that are purchased with money from the police department budget. The machine used for the card also makes cards the state requires for certain kinds of offenders, as well as police identification cards.

The machine was obtained with a grant. It's as if the offender card requirement isn't an unfunded mandate. Meanwhile, a locally elected panel's recent discussion concluded that it's better to skip a grant because of entangling red tape, and strings attached. What a shame to pass up tools that will improve service and lower costs.

Shop with a cop and the kids' ID cards are two good things to say this week about police in Lewisburg.

Now, after considering those services, here's a suggestion on how to improve the card issuance for kids: Make two cards and give one to the kid who would then be immediately identifiable.

Here's why.

The manager of a Co-op grocery in Wheaton, Md. found a boy walking alone in the store. The manager asked if he was lost. "No, I know where I am," the kid replied. "I've lost my mother and I'm looking for her."

So the kid in cowboy boots, jeans and a brim hat was taken to the manager's office. It has a window overlooking the store. The kid thought he might see Mom. When he didn't, he asked if an announcement could be made.

"OK," says the manager. "What's your name?"

"I'm Roy Rogers," the kid says with no indication that he didn't actually believe he was the TV cowboy.

"Attention shoppers," the manager announced. "We have a little boy here in a cowboy hat and boots. He says he's lost his mother. Will Mrs. Rogers please come to the manager's office to pick up Roy?"

Mom was the only woman who came to the office to get me that afternoon in the mid- to late 1950s.