Ex-cop helps 50 officers outfit needy kids for school

by: David F. Ashton, Students Jose Carades and Alvaro Sanchez were assigned to Portland’s best known ex-cop, Mayor Tom Potter, for the shopping event.

A week before school started this year, the parking lot of the Johnson Creek Boulevard Fred Meyer store, on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, was swarming with police officers early one morning. But this massive police presence wasn't there to foil a criminal caper.

It was the annual 'Shop with a Cop' event in Southeast Portland, and this year it was led by Portland's best known ex-officer, and Woodstock resident, Mayor Tom Potter. He was joined by 50 cops from all over town, including a number from Southeast Precinct.

'We're in our fourth year of the 'Shop with a Cop' program,' the event coordinator, SE Precinct Senior Night Sgt. Larry Graham, explained to us. 'In addition to helping kids from outer southeast Portland, we're helping kids from all over the city.'

Graham said this event epitomizes community policing in action. 'The kids get the chance to bond with a police officer and see them in a positive environment. Many of the officers are here on their own time.' After working his graveyard shift, Graham again volunteered to help at the event.

The sponsoring organizations chipped in the funds to put $157 on each of the 100 gift cards used at the event. And, to make the money go farther, the Johnson Creek Blvd. Fred Meyer store reduced prices on back-to-school clothing and supplies for the event.

Mayor Tom Potter, an ex-cop himself, participated in this year's event. 'I've heard about this great event, and wanted to participate this year,' he said. 'I'm just here to help out and lend support. Our police officers are the real stars of this event.'

The Portland Police Bureau, Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland, the ROSE CDC and Fred Meyer have helped nearly 400 young people get ready for school with this unique program.

Do they intend to do it next year? 'You bet,' assured Graham.