It was not an emergency situation or some kind of police sting operation. The gathering carried with it the joys of this holiday season, its meaning, its importance, especially to the children.
Its name rings a bell of its own: Shop with a Cop.
Indeed the law enforcers, and emergency crews for that matter, were off-duty, but they all showed up in uniform, so instead of answering calls and responding to emergencies, their day included a shopping spree through the video and toy aisles at the largest retail chain in Cedar City.
The day went quickly, but not after careful planning by the organizers, the Cedar City Police Department. It started with a ride in emergency vehicles.
Oh what a sight it was.
The lineup of police cruisers, sheriff’s trucks, fire engines and ambulances down the Interstate with lights and sirens blazing was the best part of the day for 6-year-old Tanya DeGroff, who along with 5-year-old Aleena Brown, got to ride with Cpl. Kerrie Turrell and Sgt. Shalon Shaver, both from the Iron County Jail.
They went to breakfast at Canyon View High School, and the deputies, well, they put their voices to good use, joining Brown and DeGroff in singing that timeless Christmas classic: “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”
Breakfast consisted of French toast sticks, a sausage patty, eggs, oranges, bananas and juice, but excitement got the best of the children because none of them ate much. Perhaps their minds were tuned solid to what’s coming next — another ride in emergency vehicles and on to shopping.
“It’s only 7:30 in the morning and we’ve got sirens and lights going off. This is when we wake up the whole town, but it’s so fun for the kids,” Turrell said.
Once back at Wal-Mart, the children waited outside the garden center for Santa Claus to arrive via helicopter. Sure it was cold, but that didn’t seem to matter to these children, their eyes lit up in anticipation for the jolly big guy himself.
Shopping was next on the list of things to do.
Armed with a $100 gift card for each child, each officer grabbed a shopping cart. For Turrell, the Shop with a Cop event wasn’t the first. But before, she always had been paired with a boy.
“This is the first time I’ve had a little girl. I’m so excited,” she said.
Also a mother of only boys, Turrell admitted she was very familiar with the GI Joe section in toys but not so much with the girl stuff.
But with Brown showing her the ropes of looking for baby dolls and accessories, princess stuff and dress-ups, it didn’t take long before Turrell caught on.
The all-time favorite toy among Brown and her two sisters — Cadierae Brown and Kaylie Jeffers — was Monster High, a line of dolls similar to Barbie but more gothic in appearance.
“I have to get accessories for my Monster High, and my sister has a lot of accessories, my older sister. And I just want accessories, because if I don’t get them, my Monster High collection will be ruined,” Cadierae Brown said.
Check-out time for Turrell involved pulling a few bucks out of her own wallet to make sure Brown got what she wanted and needed.
But it’s really no different for any of the officers who, while some don’t admit it, use some of their own resources to pay for the extras these children need during Christmas.
“Everybody carries their own bank card with them because they know they’re going to spend some of their own money,” said ICSO Deputy Karla Britt.
For some children, the shopping spree is a chance for them to buy gifts not only themselves but for their brothers and sisters.
For many officers this event is one they look forward to all year.
“This just gives me the Christmas spirit,” Britt said. “I look forward to this all year. I was the one first in the jail to do the Shop with a Cop event, and ever since, I’ve come back and I always get everybody to go with me. I love it. It’s so fun.”
Sgt. Jimmy Roden, who had Brown’s sister Kaylie Jeffers as one of his children, said the children’s excitement this year was exactly what he needed.
“The excitement from the children was over the top,” Roden said. “ ... It was so great. This is exactly what I needed this year to get me in the Christmas spirit. It does it every year.”Share