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home : community : community Friday, May 24, 2019

1/3/2017 11:46:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Shop With A Cop

By Amy Doeun

Officer Pheng Xiong helping a little girl during Shop with a Cop.
Sixteen years ago Arnie Curiel, a resident of the Frogtown area of St. Paul, approached the police chief at the time saying, "We should do something to improve relations in the area." Curiel was given the green light to try to come up with an idea. Steve Linders, Public Information Officer said, "This is the idea they came up with."

"Shop with a Cop" started with just 25 kids 16 years ago, this year the event involved 300 kids and 200 officers, according to Linders.

In addition to improving community relations, Linders said, "The event helps the children to experience the joys of giving." The shopping trip is for brothers, sisters, moms and dads, anyone significant in their life.

The event is made possible by local businesses, including Target Corporation and police officers who created the fund. The children who participate in the program are nominated and then selected. When it is their turn to shop they are dropped off at the Western District Precinct and paired with a cop. They then ride the "Twinkle Bus" (a specially decorated bus) to the Midway Target, which happens to be just across the street from the Western District office. The children have created a list ahead of time and now have the opportunity to shop for everyone on their list.

In addition to getting presents under the tree, "This is an opportunity not only for the officers to see the kids in another light, but it's for the kids and those families to see the officers in another light," Curiel said.

Curiel is pleased with the growth of the program. He said, "While I don't know what the long-term impact of the program will be, for this moment, this time, right now - this is a positive relationship." And it is not just the children who look forward to it. Police Chief Todd Axtell said that the cops look forward to it eagerly every year.

While the shopping trip is supposed to be for members of the child's family Linders said, "It is not uncommon for the officers to dig into their own pockets and buy something for the kids themselves."

"It's all about building these relationships and having a lot of fun with our kids, because this is our future," Axtell said.

Officer Pheng Xiong, has been on the St. Paul Police Force for four years. He said that the event reminds him of where he came from. "I'm sure these kids grew up in the same neighborhood I grew up in," Xiong said. "To me it's another kid in the neighborhood, like I was."

St. Paul, MN



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