Shop With a Cop helps bridge gap between police, community
Jaxon Shoemaker’s smile beamed as he sorted through his Tech Deck finger-sized scooter, Nerf gun, can of Pringles and assortment of treats, toys and games.
Shoemaker was one of 15 children participating in Shop With a Cop on Saturday, an annual tradition put on by the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Routt County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State Patrol.
The law enforcement agencies work with Integrated Community and Routt County schools to identify children who could use a boost around the holidays.
Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Adrian said this year’s event brought together more kids and law enforcement officers than any other in its eight-year history.
The law enforcement agencies host the event with gift cards donated from Walmart and private donors.
Adrian said the day has grown steadily every year. About 25 law enforcement came out to shop with 15 children Saturday.
“It’s about bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement,” Adrian said. “I think it’s more rewarding for the cops than the kids.”
Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Daschle stood next to Shoemaker as the two navigated the Steamboat Springs Walmart. Shoemaker’s eyes scanned the toys, technology and snacks aisles, while Daschle followed closely behind and kept track of how much money Shoemaker had left.
Shoemaker’s family was two doors down from the trailers that caught fire at Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park earlier this year. While his family’s trailer was not in the direct fire, they were left without power for several months, along with 14 other trailers on the south side of the park.
After several months of life without power, Shoemaker was thrilled to shop for presents for himself and his family.
Amie Shoemaker, Jaxon’s mother, talked about how the family had a tumultuous year and how the event brought smiling faces and a sense of peace to her three children, all students at Sleeping Giant School.
“It’s just nice with everything going on in the world,” Amie said.
Amie’s father was a police officer for several years, and she hopes shopping with a police officer will teach her children to trust law enforcement and not feel afraid to call them when it’s necessary.
“It’s important for them to see that police are people they can trust,” Amie said. “When you shop with a cop, you see this as someone looking out for you.”
Kirsten Miller, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife park ranger shopping with 5-year-old Caleb Escarte, also saw the event as a way for children to build a strong relationship with law enforcement.
“It’s a family-friendly interaction that builds a relationship between the cops and the kids,” Miller said. “It’s just nice for all of us.”
Unlike some of the other children, Escarte carefully examined each aisle before picking up a toy and placing it in the cart. It’s a remarkable skill for a 5-year-old, Miller noted.
“We’re very analytical over here,” Miller joked as Escarte eyed several sets of Hotwheels ramps and slowly considered which to pick.
Adrian hopes to continue the event each year moving forward, with recommendations for children from Integrated Community and the county’s schools.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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