Why Shop With Cops?

It has long been noted that relationships between the police department and the Frogtown and Summit-University communities, particularly the communities of color in these two communities, have been very strained. The initial intent of the program was to address the issue of repairing and making these strained relationships better. From a functional standpoint, it was felt that to address this issue the place to start was with the younger kids, ages 5 and up. The effects of the program are multi-faceted. Shop with Cops hopes to break down the barriers between the community and the police with the intent of developing a better and more trusting relationship.

Currently, no measure of success has been employed because there is no paid staff. All contributions the years have come through donations and all program operation functions are accomplished through community volunteers. When resources are available, it is certainly our intent to accomplish some of the goals of creating and using appropriate measuring devices. We believe the program has been successful but realize that future program direction will be best bolstered by previous history and success.







McGruff and a Saint Paul Police Officer

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What is Shop With Cops?
The purpose of the event is to foster positive relationships between youth and officers. Young kids, K - 6th grade are selected each year during the end-of-the-year holiday season to shop at one of the local area stores to purchase gifts for members of their immediate family. Each child is given a small amount of money to spend, normally $50-$100 depending on the size of the child's immediate family. Approximately 1-2 children are assigned to each police personnel, who then escorts them around the store and assists in selecting appropriate gifts for each family member. The children are told, and understand, that the money is not for personal use and must only be spent on members. After shopping, the children will eat lunch, wrap their gifts, and continue to get to know the police officers.
History

The program started in the winter of 2000. The initial idea started with Retired Chief John Harrington, then a Senior Commander with the St Paul Police Department Western District and Arnoldo Curiel, then Coordinator of the Frogtown Weed and Seed initiative. As the program progressed it was joined by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, District 7 and 8 Planning Councils, West Minnehaha Recreation Center, and various members of the Frogtown and Summit-University communities. From 2000 -2004 the operating support for Shop with Cops came from federal Weed and Seed dollars, a strategy which " weeds" out crime in communities and plant the "seeds" for positive change and development.

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Since its original conception, those involved in the planning and implementation have changed somewhat. For example, the Frogtown and Summit-University communities no longer qualify for Weed and Seed funding and therefore no longer cover operating expenses. However various members of the Frogtown and Summit-University communities continue to volunteer to operate Shop with Cops.

In addition. while the involvement of the St. Paul Police Department has not changed, personnel changes have occurred. Retired Chief John Harrington is no longer involved with the program from an operation standpoint. But Chief Smith, the city's current Police Chief, is in support of this program and its objective in creating positive ties between children and police. Senior Commander Todd Axtell (current Western District Commander) has assumed those duties supplied by the police.

In 2000, its first year in operation over 50 kids and 15 officers were involved. During the 2009 event, Shop with Cops had 213 kids participating and over 107 officers from St Paul Police Department volunteer their time.