Cops and Christmas Spirit

Cops and Christmas Spirit

By Stephen Owsinski

Cops wear many hats. We can all agree on that. They bring to the job an array of skills and apply them to whatever the call entails, spontaneously meeting needs of victims and witnesses, many of whom are subjected to inexplicable situations.

Despite the Grinch-like anti-police mouthpieces, cops will always respond, no matter the context. The oath is sacred and true.

But it doesn’t end there. Many law enforcement officers either have second jobs (since police work is often undercompensated) or hobbies and special talents having nothing to do with police duty. In my police agency were brick layers, pool installers, screen installers, electricians, woodworkers, Notary Public stampers, house painters, landscapers, mechanics, and a smorgasbord of other in-house specialties to fill just about any need. You know, like Santa’s round-the-clock elves.

Christmas time is the season of spirit and good cheer. And some of those endearing features cops bring to the festive season are starting to circulate.

A young policewoman with the Boston Police Department has a voice to make angels blush. In her Class-A uniform, Boston Police Officer Kim Tavares melodiously croons the classical tune “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” caveated with her holiday message: “No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope this song brings you peace and joy. Singing makes me happy and helps soothe the soul. How ungrateful it would be if I did not share the gift of voice that God gave me. Feel free to spread joy and share my gift of song with your friends and family.”

Indeed, the calming voices so essential during calls involving chaos and crisis can soothe souls victimized by Grinches who steal cars, purses, identities, utterly pilfering peace.

Then there are the cops who calculate timing and choreograph a light show exemplifying stellar synchronicity…using their police cruisers. The cops with the Perry Police Department in New York pulled off an incredible light show without ever having to exit their police cars.

Okay, maybe they have a videographer and film editor among their ranks. We did agree that cops wear many hats, remember?

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Florida pursued the same feat and came up with their own brand of Christmas dazzle.

Using the same Trans-Siberian Orchestra classic, the Stow Police Department in Massachusetts involved a 15-year-old boy in their community, “JT.” Stow cops admit the evidence that JT came up with the idea, his talents forming an edited piece of festive lights using Stow PD cruisers. I happened upon a blurb written by a young lady who states she lives behind the Stow Police station, and this video answered her quizzical wonder: “Oh how funny…I live behind the station and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on!” Just your community cops and a young filmmaker getting their holiday cheer on…just the facts, ma’m.

Lest we leave out the role of playing Santa Claus, here is Secret Santa nixing tickets and gifting drivers with things to put smiles on their faces. There is a treasure trove of these things. The mainstream media won’t dare share the wonders of cops giving during Christmas season (and throughout the year), but the National Police Association delights in bringing you a bevy of beautiful bounty provided by men and women in law enforcement uniforms.

Instead of traffic citations, the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office deputies issued cash to motorists. The Houston Police Department spread Christmas cheer by handing out $100 bills to motorists pulled over for minor traffic infractions.

By the way, Secret Santa among law enforcers is not a new thing. In December 2015, Detroit Police Chief James Craig took to the streets and surprised many citizens seemingly low on luck and enduring tough times. Gee, sounds exactly why we have cops among us. In case you’re wondering where the funds and/or gift cards came from, anonymous donors usually provide cash to dole out, and businesses offer merchandise for police officers to distribute: community spirit. Such was the case in Detroit, as Chief Craig spread cheer upon cold, wet streets, transfixing sad expressions to blooming smiles in a heartbeat.

Like mine, some agencies simply collect cash from the very pockets of cops, all proceeds gifted to motorists upon traffic stops and/or at the doors to supermarkets or other merchants within the community. Community churches and businesses donate amply, and police personnel handle distribution. Zero tax dollars involved, tons of smiles as dividends.

Like Detroit’s Chief Craig replied when asked “How do you know who really, really needs it?” cops can tell right away. Police officers fuse their training, experience, and pure human instinct to gauge when someone is having a bad day and seemingly at a breaking point. You saw that in the Detroit-based Secret Santa collection of traffic/pedestrian stops. The same nuances are present across the nation, and Lowell, Michigan police Chief Steve Bukala explained his department’s 2014 Secret Santa operation and how his officers pick up on things exuded by citizens stopped for traffic violations.

Snow doesn’t stop Santa Claus…or the Lowell police force and their elves…all of whom delivered exactly what citizens longed for, on the spot! Policing is extraordinarily spontaneous, and the Lowell crew exhibited that within their Secret Santa operation. As a Lowell police officer said when asked how he orchestrated fulfilling a person’s wish-list in mere minutes: “Well, we have radios and sleighs and elves.” Gotta love the spontaneity and ingenuity of cops, especially when it is snowing!

“While we don’t encourage minor traffic violations, it’s important for police departments to take the time to show their citizens just how much they care,” the Lowell Police Department wrote. That reminds me of a factor, one having to do with constitutional law. No cop can stop the free movement of a citizen without a reason, without conventional probable cause to address a violation of law. These Secret Santa scenarios we just viewed were all stemming from some infraction, something unlawful…but with happy endings.

One more ingenious operation to help citizens is the Aurora Police Department’s use of its K-9s to combat those pesky porch pirates stealing box deliveries from private property. It’s called “Operation Santa Claws” and may involve a German Shepherd concealed in a box among boxes.

As you can see, law enforcement officers across our beloved nation are spreading cheer in communities. Those same men and women in police uniforms dedicate themselves to a year-round Grinch-eradication operation as well as stepping up when tragedy impacts a family. And for any bah humbugs out there, just call if you need us. We deliver listening ears, for starters. May even have Kris Kringle along for the shift. Throwing a Christmas party for the community? Yeah, cops got that covered too.

Last but not least, for all the cops do for their communities throughout the 24/7/365-cycle…Santa’s list is not complete without cheering for cops.

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