Last week, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division went shopping with local school kids for their school supplies. Each student received a $100 gift card. Below is a first person perspective from Detective Brent Hopkins, who went shopping with eight year old Julianna and shared the experience with the Buzz and on local social media.
Nights like this were what made me want to become a cop.
For an hour out of our normal weekday of traffic stops, burglary reports and stolen vehicles, we got a welcome respite from the normal police routine and took some deserving kids shopping for school supplies. Funded by a generous donor and assisted by the kind folks at our local Staples, we paired up with several dozen adorable kids from Wilshire’s local schools. They ranged from elementary to high school and they were all extremely enthusiastic, earnest and jazzed to be back at school.
As they disembarked the bus, Sergeant Cleon Joseph, our Senior Lead Office supervisor, greeted each student with a handshake and a $100 gift card. He then assigned each student to a group of officers who volunteered to help with the shopping—everyone pitched in, from veteran motor cops to collision investigators, senior lead officers, domestic violence response teams, community relations officers and juvenile, burglary and auto detectives.
The kids enthusiastically rushed in, shopping lists in hand, and the cops carried their baskets, helping them find the best items for their budget. Some needed backpacks. Others wanted ballpoint pens. Everyone needed pencils and there was a run on notebook paper.
My student, Julianna, was 8 years old (“But I’m about to be 9 in three months!”), a student at Shenandoah Elementary, a passionate artist and animal lover. She carefully evaluated her crayon options, weighing the prices versus the color selection. Since she economized on a cheaper set of pens and her brother used his gift card to get a nice pencil sharpener, she checked off her entire list and still had money left over to get the deluxe, 152-color pack of crayons and a nice sketchbook. She challenged me to a drawing contest and put my awful artistic talents to shame.
While we waited in line to check out, she told me about her classes, her summer break and her plans for the year ahead.
“OK, I’m going to ask you the thing that all adults love to ask kids,” I told her. “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“That’s easy,” she replied. “I want to work with the police…. Or be a movie star. Or maybe one first, then the other. Or, I know, I’ll do both at the same time!”
We all posed for a photo, high fived and sent the students back home, brimming with excitement about their new purchases. As we walked back to our cars, several shoppers came up to thank us for helping the kids out. As corny as it may sound, though, I think the cops got just as much out of it as the students. After spending the whole day dealing with the bad side of human nature, it was nice to escape, if only for an hour, and spend some time with a great bunch of children. – Detective Brent Hopkins, 39343 Los Angeles Police Department, Wilshire Community Police Station.
LAPD received a total donation of $62,500 from the Matthew 25:35 Foundation to fund the Back To School Shop With A Cop Program in 25 different locations around the Los Angeles. Similar programs are operated by police officers around the country.
Officers from LAPD Olympic Division will be shopping Tuesday and Wednesday of next week with students at the Staples in Koreatown at 6th Street at Vermont.