For the past 12 years the Washington County Shop with a Cop program teamed needy kids in the community with local law enforcement to help pick out gifts for their families during the Christmas holiday.
This year, the program will be much the same except, in Washington County, it’s going to be run by the Fraternal Order of Police.
West Bend Police Lieutenant Matt Rohlinger said the FOP is a national organization founded in Pittsburgh. “This is a social-type fraternity organization and we are represented by the Kettle Moraine Lodge,” said Rohlinger. “Our mission is to give back to the community with scholarships and helping officers in need.”
Over the years the FOP has helped with a local chili cook off and given time and effort back to the community.
“When we heard the future of Washington County’s Shop with a Cop was at risk the executive board met and felt strongly we should keep it going,” Rohling said. “This is great interaction with the kids and in this current environment it’s critical to send a positive message.”
Questioned whether participants will notice a big change, Rohlinger said the amount of support staff and officers involved will become a priority. “We’re trying to recruit more officers and uniforms so kids actually do shop with a cop,” he said.
Last year Representatives from the County Sheriff’s Department, and police from West Bend, Slinger, Kewaskum Police Department, Germantown, Jackson and Big Cedar Lake Patrol all went shopping at Walmart and made 65 kids from the area extremely happy for Christmas.
There were also representatives from county government including Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann.
The evening of shopping was followed by a nice meal and some Bingo at the West Bend Moose Lodge.
Rohlinger said, “We want to reach kids at a very young age so their first encounter with us (law enforcement) is a very positive one and it shapes their opinion of police as they grow up. Hopefully crossing several lines of jurisdiction with the FOP may help with participation.”
FOP has about 50 members in its Kettle Moraine Chapter.
The FOP has developed a steering committee to take over the event and its currently working to lock in a home-base location. “We want a place that’s big enough to accommodate our group and we’re also trying to solidify a date,” Rohlinger said. “We’re working with the schools and trying not to conflict with holiday concerts.”
More details will be released in the near future.
This Friday, July 22 in West Bend proceeds from a card signing event at Toucan Custard will be donated to the Shop with a Cop program. See more details by clicking here.
BEHIND THE SCENES – SHOP WITH A COP: Some insider info on the 11th annual Washington County Shop with a Cop event held last night at the West Bend Moose Lodge.
Shop with a Cop is supported entirely from community donations.
“We took 65 kids shopping and had about 125 volunteers,” Mary Woerner, deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, said.
Woerner has been working to coordinate the event since October.
“We went through 300 cookies, 150 juice boxes, 80 hot dogs, 225 hamburgers, and 65 rolls of wrapping paper,” she said.
The event is supported by large donations from First Bank Financial Centre, Serigraph, employees at West Bend Mutual, Friends of Police Kettle Moraine Lodge, Delta Defense, and hundreds of businesses and community members.
Other partners include the West Bend Moose Lodge, Johnson Bus, and the West Bend Walmart.