PRINCETON — Princeton City Police Department welcomed area children to celebrate the holiday season with local law enforcement.
Children of various ages from area schools were welcomed to join officers at Coal Country Kandies Cafe for the festive celebration. With a holiday feast and gifts, the celebration gave the children an opportunity to meet the officers one on one.
“The kids don’t forget this, and the parents and school teachers don’t either. It’s a great thing to show the kids to not be scared of officers,” Princeton Police Chief T.A. Gray said.
In an assembly line, officers served the children dinner, fulfilling their promises to serve and protect.
After collecting donations throughout the year the department holds the party to gift children with both toys and memorable experiences. Both monetary and toy donations have been given to the department by way of gifts brought to the office and fundraising efforts such as the hat drive.
Regarding the various school groups present at the event, Gray said “We had a set amount for each of them” when it came to the donations for the party.
With some children being afraid of officers the party gives them a chance to sit down and see them beyond the uniform. Rather than being afraid of the badge, the children are able to sit with the officers and speak to them.
“You truly do not understand the impact that we have on these children’s lives until you see their eye light up and smile from ear to ear,” Princeton City Detective S.M. Severt said.
Unfortunately, some children only experience officers in instances where they witness their parents or guardians being taken under arrest. Due to this their perceptions of those in uniform harbors a negative connotation.
“The perception the children have on police start at home so hopefully they’ll see ys more as their friends other than whatever they may have experienced in the past or have been told,” Severt said.
The Christmas with a Cop event not only gives these children happy memories but it also allows them to formulate their own opinions and experiences with law enforcement.
According to Gray, two local businesses donated very genersou amounts to the Christmas cause. Both WV Recycle and the Mercer Health Care Center contributed much to the festive event.
The Princeton City Police Department will begin collecting donations for the 2020 Christmas event in the spring, according to Gray.
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