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Officers assigned special duty: Shopping with kids

West Linn participates in annual 'Shop With a Cop' event


by: JOHN HIGGINS - Capt. Ron Schwartz with the West Linn Police Department participated for the first time in the Shop With a Cop event at Walmart on Dec. 15.West Linn officers recently made some children’s holidays bright.

The West Linn Police Department participated in the Clackamas County Peace Officers’ Benevolent Foundation’s annual “Shop With a Cop” event Dec. 15 at the Walmart in Happy Valley. Five officers from West Linn participated, including Capt. Ron Schwartz.

During “Shop With a Cop,” local law enforcement officers select children whose families have had some enforcement contact with police, present those children with gift cards and then shop with them. According to Schwartz, West Linn’s school resource officer helped identify children within the city.

Walmart provided a separate checkout area for the event and wrapped all the gifts for the kids and supplied them with gift wrap, ribbon and tags. It’s an opportunity for police and children to get to know one another; and any concerns the children may have had about police are often changed for the better, according to county law enforcement officials.

This was Schwartz’s first year participating in the event.

“It was a great experience. It’s nice to be able to help out children,” he said. “These kids were very appreciative.”

This year, more than 130 children from communities throughout Clackamas County were at the event. The children each received a $100 Walmart gift certificate and were “assigned” their own law enforcement officer to accompany them during their shopping spree.

Approximately 50 officers from the Canby Police Department, Molalla Police Department, West Linn Police Department, Lake Oswego Police Department, Wilsonville Police Department, Oregon State Police and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office shopped with 132 kids.

Schwartz was able to shop with three children: a fourth-grader from Willamette Primary School, a 10-year-old boy from Southeast Portland and a 16-year-old girl from Milwaukie.

“They were very excited,” Schwartz said of the children.

Schwartz said when he finished checking out with the boy from Willamette Primary he discovered one of more expensive things the boy had picked out was for his little brother. Schwartz said many of the children had their younger siblings in mind while shopping.

“Shop With a Cop” helps bridge relationships between children and the police. These children are specifically chosen because their families may have experienced prior law-enforcement activity with police — creating a significant impact on the child.

According to Clackamas officials, witnessing the arrest of a loved one can cause many youngsters to harbor strong negative feelings toward law enforcement. “Shop With a Cop” is an opportunity to identify with those children and pair them together with an officer in a positive situation — shopping for Christmas presents.

“A lot of these kids don’t have positive contacts with police. This is an opportunity to see us in a different light,” Schwartz said. “Overall, it’s a great deal.”

Walmart donated $1,000 to the event, in addition to providing staff and all necessary wrapping paper.

“I had a lot of fun. I’ll do it again next year,” Schwartz said. “It was very heartwarming.”

The event was also supported by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Molalla Police Department, West Linn Police Department, Lake Oswego Police Department and public generosity.

All members of the community are welcome to participate in next year’s event by donating any amount of money in the form of check or money order made out to CCPO Benevolent Foundation, P.O. Box 426 Oregon City, OR 97045. A receipt for taxes will be mailed.

The Clackamas County Peace Officers’ Benevolent Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization that assists police officers and their families in Clackamas County when an officer is injured or killed. The foundation also works closely with programs dedicated to helping at-risk children.by: JOHN HIGGINS - West Linn Police Officer Jim Abeles is all smiles as he shops with three girls during the event.



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