Westminster area kids get to know law enforcement, prep for school with annual event
Six-year-old Adiva Jefferson and 9-year-old Iyanna Butler, sisters from Westminster, sat at picnic tables in Dutterer Family Park munching on slices of pizza.
For the two sisters who will attend William Winchester Elementary School next month, the day was successful — each was able to get a backpack and school supplies before eating and enjoying the park at the annual Shop With a Cop back-to-school event in Westminster.
For Iyanna, her favorite part was getting to pick out a “pretty” book bag, in addition to getting supplies like notebooks and a flash drive.
“It’s like metallic — pink metallic,” she said of her new backpack.
Tiffaney Williams-Anderson, the girls’ aunt, said she brought the pair out because their mom was feeling under the weather.
“We just love to come and hang out,” she said, adding, “It brings the community together, which is most important.”
Williams-Anderson said the day is also a chance for the kids to see the cops are their friends, and to also meet some other children who may be in their classes.
“I think it is a real good thing,” she added.
This year is the ninth annual Shop With a Cop event for the Westminster Police Department, Chief Jeff Spaulding said. While the event has been going on for nearly a decade, the partnership with nonprofit The Shepherd’s Staff has been going for three years, said Brenda Meadows, executive director of The Shepherd’s Staff.
Spaulding said about 150 students from the greater Westminster area came out this year to receive all of their supplies before school kicks off. The event brings out students from pre-kindergarten through high school, he said.
In recent years, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has also partnered in the event, he said. Prior to help from The Shepherd’s Staff, Spaulding said his department just had to go out and find the children themselves using help from the City of Westminster Public Housing Authority. Now, The Shepherd’s Staff takes care of the registration.
“It’s been a wonderful relationship,” he said.
While the day includes school supplies, there’s also food, music, haircuts, a water slide and more.
Spaulding said the event is an overall great chance for children to interact with police in a positive way. They get to know the officers “as real people, not just officers riding around in their car or coming into their home when something terrible happens.”
The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to allow Superintendent Steven Lockard to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office in relation to the school resource officer program.
Meadows said Thursday’s event went well, with everyone in high spirits. And in addition to the important piece of kids getting to be around law enforcement, it offers a chance for children to be completely prepared heading back to school.