Hoping to foster relationships with kids while helping them get supplies for the upcoming school year, Annapolis police officers took 20 students shopping Wednesday during the third annual Shop with a Cop.
The shop with a cop idea came from Lt. Kevin Krauss, who said he has been working with kids for more than 20 years and has seen the kids’ needs.
“We need the build the trust between the kids and cops,” Krauss said.
Krauss wants to show the community that officers are normal people too. “I go home to my two kids and deal with the same problems they do,” he said.
Chief Ed Jackson said these events help create partnerships and give opportunities to kids who wouldn’t normally get them.
“We want the public to see that we are more than people who just arrest others,” Jackson said. “We also want to prevent crime and build relationships with the youth so they can see us in a different light.”
Jackson wants young kids to grow up and want to be cops. Events like this help that cause, he believes.
He said the police must go into underserved neighborhoods and make positive bonds.
“Crime prevention and poverty have a direct tie with each other and every child should have the opportunity to have the supplies and clothes they need for school. When those basic needs are met, they can achieve their goals,” Jackson said.
The Annapolis Police Foundation sponsored this trip to the Towne Centre Target and gave the kids each $100 spending budget. The shopping list included uniform attire, belts, sweatshirts, shoes, socks, undergarments and school supplies.
About 10 Annapolis police officers took groups of kids around the store to shop and then to a BBQ back at Annapolis Police Department Headquarters.
Fourth grader Tyran Brown and sixth grader David Townes said shopping with the cops is nice. Townes said it does help a lot.
“The relationship between us and the cops is getting better, and they have more activities they do with us,” Townes said.
Brown added, “When we have nothing to do, the cops will call us and ask us if we want to do an activity, instead of sitting in the house bored.”
Judy Buddensick, a member of the Annapolis Police Foundation, loves to see the camaraderie between the kids and the officers. “The kids don’t sit there like: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m with a cop.’ They are like ‘I’m with my friend Mr. Joe,’ ” she said.
“This is building the relationship early on, and the goal was to have smaller groups do things together more often,” she said. “A lot of these kids don’t get the chance to enjoy the area we live in.”
The Annapolis Police community service department has taken kids sailing, fishing, crabbing and sightseeing in the past.
“The kids know the police officers and they are growing up with them,” Buddensick said. “There are issues in the neighborhoods that some of these kids live in and that is not fair. We are trying to make sure they still have fun and they deserve it.”
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Buddensick said it is rewarding to help these kids out and take some stress of the parents. She wishes they could have done more, but COVID-19 slowed down some fundraisers.