For many, Christmas time is a time of cheer. A time to wrap presents and sit them prettily below a Christmas tree. However, for others, the holiday season can be stressful. For families who might not have the means to get everything on their loved ones Christmas list, this time can be a sad one.
The Berea Police Department, has come up with a way to help make these family’s Christmases merry and bright — through their Christmas with a Cop program. Chief Eric Scott explained through the BPD’s non-profit organization Berea Police Association, they are able to help families in ways that other stations might not be able to do.
“Christmas with a Cop pairs officers with children in the community that might be less fortunate than others;” Sgt. Aaron Boycan, president of Berea Police Association, said. “It gives the cops an opportunity to engage with them (the children) while also giving them the essentials they need.”
The annual event for the BPD allows local children to get essentials, such as: winter coats, socks, clothes and more. It also gives them a chance to get special gifts that they would like to have for Christmas.
The event isn’t just good for the children, though, Boycan explained.
The officers love it too.
“It (Christmas with a Cop) gives the officers a good opportunity to engage with the children one-on-one as they shop and get to know them better,” Boycan said. “It allows for a positive interaction. Whereas sometimes people don’t always have a positive interaction with a police officer, depending on the particular situation.”
Christmas with a Cop began because the BPD wanted to see something like Shop with a Cop in Berea.
“We felt that it was a need in the community we could fill,” Boycan said.
In previous years, the BPD has used Berea Community School's resource centers to collect names of students who might be disadvantaged. The resource center is sent a form which asks if there are families who need assistance with the holidays and families are encouraged to respond.
That has been made harder in 2020 because most schools have not been in session. However, the BPD has pulled through and gotten a list of families to participate this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the way BPD will be holding their Christmas with a cop event.
The event will still be hosted at the Walmart in Berea. However, they are going to stagger the families for their shopping trip.
“What we’re going to do is assign an officer to a family and have them go in so that they get a head start,” Boycan said. “Then we’re going to make sure that the family is mostly done with their shopping before we send in another family. That way we won’t hold up Walmart’s cashiers and they children are around as little people as possible.”
In addition to staggering shoppers, BPD will also make sure everyone will be wearing a mask and they are socially distanced properly.
This year's Christmas with a Cop will be held, tentatively, on Dec. 12 and 13. However, once those dates are closer the BPD will look over the number of children who are wanting to be involved in the event and decide if they need the second day.
For more information on the event follow BPD’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BereaPolice/.