Cops and Community Partnerships Make Marvelous Things Happen

By Stephen Owsinski

As a researcher of all-things-cops, I come across some pretty innovative uses of equipment and nifty out-of-the-box thinking thanks to police agencies and their progressive personnel seeking to not only meet but exceed the community’s needs. And like any good handshake, it takes hands of others to achieve bonds and generate goodness for all parties.

The recent Thanksgiving holiday surfaced some fantastic partnerships between police agencies and community organizations, ultimately doing their darndest to ensure tabletops were populated with sustenance and bellies were filled.

Although the heat of summer months gave way to cooler temps, the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, police department, whose fleet of police service vehicles includes an ice cream truck, stow their Operation Copsicle for the season and roll out other resources and service provisions. The jingly dessert mobile insignia’d with “Freeze! You have the right to remain frozen!” and operated by Pittsfield police officers will make rounds again…when the sun showcases its intensity during summer months.

(Photo courtesy of the Pittsfield Police Department in Massachusetts.)

In its hiatus, the Operation Copsicle program success will still go forward with behind-the-scenes fundraising by community entities who also see its value to the entire jurisdiction. How so? Among other community contributors, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448 in Pittsfield continues to raise dollars so that Operation Copsicle is a mainstay for its citizens. In 2018, the VFW post furnished a $10,000 check to the Pittsfield Police Operation Copsicle program for the ice cream truck and a chill inventory to hand out to youngsters. Kami Tucker of WNYT reported on the generous donation and inherent community spirit: “Police are close to buying their own ice cream truck to continue to build relationships & trust with city children.”

Digging for details for this story, I found other police departments are also offering Operation Copsicle programs in/for their respective community. The Argyle Police Department, the Thornton Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies across the United States team up with merchants and philanthropic entities to enable unique concepts for those they serve.

Speaking of service, law enforcement officers are diligently out there trying to do the job while COVID continues to bully us. In that regard, private sources are publicly donating PPEs to police agencies on a continual basis, and that equates to serving and protecting the community while preserving the health of cops working in a widely threatening public environment. When the chips are down and “defund the police” cheerleaders are combusting, it is always reassuring to know that wisdom prevails when frontline warriors are adequately equipped and wholly supported by genuine people who recognize the political farce and join hands with our nation’s peacekeepers.

Sadly, a significant number of cops have perished due to contracting COVID while performing duties, exemplifying the many vulnerabilities stemming from being a public servant. Local organizations take heed and do what they can for cops so that those same frontline warriors can keep safe and do whatever it takes for the community to thrive as best possible. The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office recently received a Fog Master Fogger and sanitizing solution to “sanitize emergency response vehicles in Oneida County that may become exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic that is plaguing our country. This equipment can also be used to sanitize various public safety buildings,” all thanks to generous donations from police supporters with the local Lions Club. How’s that for an example of the community working with/for its police force which, in turn, heroically navigates a life-threatening environment rife with seen and unseen negative impacts?

(Photo courtesy of the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office.)

“On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, I am grateful to President Ciotti and the Lions Club International for their generous donation of this critical piece of equipment as we do all we can to protect our first responders as they work every day during this pandemic keeping our communities and our people safe & healthy,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

Similarly, the Avondale, AZ police force received hefty donations of COVID-fighting solutions from Lowe’s. It solves a simple equation: keeping our cops protected and healthy helps keep citizens protected and safe.

As an autism dad who spent a career as a cop incessantly training for improved duty performance, I naturally marvel over pioneering ventures by police agencies on behalf of carefully addressing the unique needs of the autism demographic and often misunderstood behavioral traits. Police departments across the nation have undergone autism-specific training to better understand the complexities posed by autism and help mitigate misconstruing behavioral traits of those affected. These police training modules are often in conjunction with behavioral health conglomerates, children’s hospitals, autism research facilities such as the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (producing useable info specifically for first responders), and others. The Mount Laurel, NJ police department provides Autism Awareness Identification stickers for homeowners to place upon entryways, for cops to heed that an individual with autism may be present.

In that same regard, youngsters finding themselves in the middle of a crime scene or traffic crash inciting fear and apprehension can be offset by LEOs offering a token gesture such as stuffed animals to help calm, settle, and assure safety and sanctity born of upheaval.

The New Mexico State Police recently received a big batch of stuffed bears and other animals from a local business, purposed for the above explanation. (My police cruiser’s trunk was packed with stuffed teddy bears and consoled many children confronted by chaos, especially abrupt impacts of traffic crashes. The teddy bear supply ordinarily streamed from various area businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, churches, civic organizations, and other entities.) Although oft ill-reported, this type of donation from merchants and/or citizens seeing the need is quite common in law enforcement agencies across America.

(Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Police.)

Segueing from stuffed animals to real ones, our police service partners with four legs are also benefactors of police/community relations efforts.

Recently, the Bethlehem Police Department (otherwise known as “Christmas City”) received an enormous contribution from a private source so that its cadre of police mounted horses can thrive and manifest community relations.

“The Bethlehem Mounted Police in conjunction with Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Police proudly announce the official groundbreaking for the Annex to Quadrant Private Wealth Stables! The projected completion date of the annex is Spring 2021 and will feature a community room to host law enforcement and mounted patrol education programs, hay storage, and housing for equipment used to maintain the paddock and pastures.

“Sincere gratitude goes to the inaugural sponsor, the R.K. Laros Foundation, fondly known throughout Bethlehem for generously sponsoring many projects that impact our community.”

O little town of Bethlehem knows the worth of frontline warriors, in this case those atop horseback, and invested in lives which invested in them—a win-win all around.

(Photo courtesy of the Bethlehem Police Department.)

Going from the police horses serving in “Christmas City” to the upcoming Christmas holiday, another police/community partnership is aptly named the Castle Rock Police Department (CRPD) Community Partnership Unit, and they spent the morning making rounds and “delivering presents for the Heroes and Helpers program.”

After police staff and volunteer helpers from the community gift-shopped and wrapped presents, CRPD cops dropped off gifts to over 100 households. “Thank you to all of our local businesses and families who have made contributions to Heroes and Helpers…we couldn’t do this without your support!” said a Castle Rock PD post.

(Photo courtesy of the Castle Rock Police Department.)

These are a mere few of the many quintessential combined forces shining in the face of the “defund the police” movement and the myopic nature of those who beat that tired old drum.

As our cohort Officer Deon Joseph of the LAPD recently said, “How you treat the community you serve may protect you better than your vest and gun can.” And the community knows the value of law enforcement, symbiotically forging everyone’s sanctity…as mutually respected covenants often do.

As my police chief recently reminded, “Pray 2 Chronicles 7:14…become a warrior for Christ, in His power we can do all things.” Cops and citizens battling together can render evil impotent. We see it every day; let’s overindulge, for the good of all.

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