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Shop With A Cop

Kirkland Police Department's Inaugural Event

Article by Photography and Content Provided by the City of Kirkland

Originally published in Kirkland Lifestyle

The Kirkland Police Department’s inaugural Shop With A Cop event took place Saturday, December 7, at the Kirkland Fred Meyer, located in Totem Lake.

Sponsored by the Kirkland Police Guild and the Kirkland Police Department, the event was meant to bring gifts, toys, clothes and a healthy dose of holiday cheer to a few Kirkland families whose Christmas season may have otherwise been a little less bright. The event was coordinated by Corporal Doug Dreher, who stressed that it was a team effort that wouldn’t have been possible without support from command staff, patrol and everybody in between.

Shop with a Cop is all about strengthening relationships, celebrating positive outcomes and building community, said Dreher. Often, when police officers interact with children, it’s during times of high-stress in unpleasant circumstances. Events like Shop with a Cop give officers the opportunity to have interactions with families that are wholly positive.

“Shop with a Cop really gives us a chance to connect with the families we serve in a way that’s gratifying for everyone involved,” Dreher said.

Made possible through employee contributions and donations, the Shop with a Cop budget supported five Kirkland families, allowing each individual family member to spend a total of $100 on clothes, gifts and toys. Roughly 25 Kirkland police and corrections officers volunteered their time to push toy-filled shopping carts as their accompanying tiny tykes contemplated the latest Avengers action figure or Frozen-inspired trinket. Some helped teens shop for clothes and shoes, while others helped families select bicycles, toy pirate ships, race cars and more.

Families were referred to the program by patrol staff and Kirkland’s New Bethlehem Day Center. Whether four years old, 14 or 34, Shop with a Cop recipients were able to shop for themselves, their siblings, or other members of their family. The Kirkland Fred Meyer served as a gracious host, providing delicious baked goods and beverages.

Kirkland resident Myriah Leifi was overcome with gratitude as she and her family shopped for clothing and toys. Watching her children browse the aisles and interact with the officers was an incredible gift, she said.

“There are no words,” Myriah said.

Another benefit of Shop with a Cop was that it gave observing community members the opportunity to experience the Kirkland Police Department in a way that was both heartwarming and authentic. Fred Meyer customers frequently inquired as to what was happening, often touched by the sight of uniformed officers as they knelt to be eye-level with young ones excited to share toys and books.

Kirkland resident Tony Griffin was so moved by what he saw, he asked if he could make a donation to support the police department’s efforts. A Kirkland resident for 22 years, Griffin expressed gratitude for the City’s law enforcement professionals and was excited for the chance to help.

“I like to help out when I can,” Griffin said. “Especially for these guys because they put their lives on the line every day.”

While this marked the Department’s first ever Shop with a Cop event, it was not the first time officers have come together to support a family in need. In December of 2018, individuals within the department raised over $1,000 to provide Christmas presents to a mother and her three children who had been abandoned financially.

“Events like Shop with a Cop are shining examples of community policing,” said Chief Cherie Harris. “I am proud to lead an agency that actively seeks to provide this hands-on level of compassion to our community members. This was about a lot more than just tangible gifts, it was about sharing our time and making important connections with the people we serve.”

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