CENTERVILLE– Haylee knew just what she was looking for at Walmart Saturday and seemed more excited to pick out gifts for family members than for herself.
Haylee, of Syracuse, was one of about 65 kids who got to “Shop With A Cop,” in Centerville as part of an annual charity event sponsored by the Davis County Fraternal Order of Police. Each child goes out with a law enforcement officer and a shopping card.
Haylee was paired with Davis County Deputy Jessica Slagowski, who was impressed the girl and her two brothers knew so much about their family.
“She knows what they like and she’s looking for clothes, especially jeans, jewelry and scarves,” Slagowski said. For the boys they would be looking at buying action figures, cars and blocks and maybe some Leap Pad videos to sneak a little learning in with the fun, Slagowski said.
Meanwhile, Kaysville Police Chief Sol Oberg was helping Tavin, from Bountiful, find a skateboard. Early in the shopping spree they hadn’t had much luck, but Tavin also wanted an “Avengers” action figure. “And I think we’ll look for some shoes and other practical items,” Oberg said.
The day began early for the kids and their accompanying officers with breakfast at Applebees in West Bountiful, followed by a never-to-be-forgotten ride in a parade of police cars with all the lights and sirens going.
A special frequency was opened on the radios in police cars and kids had the chance to talk to each other over the air and to operate the lights and sirens themselves. They arrived just in time for Santa to land in a helicopter.
Officers came from every Davis County law enforcement agency, Utah Transit Authority Police, military police from Hill AFB and even a few officers who came in from Salt Lake County to ensure all the kids had a cop to shop with. All were off-duty.
“This unifies us in a common goal,” said Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson, one of the event’s organizers.
“This is one of those seasonal things they (police officers) look forward to all year,” he said. “It’s a day they can relax and just be with the kids.”
Military Police Senior Airman Dustin Cain brought Argo, a black German shepherd trained to seek out explosives to help shop.
Several other K-9s were also on hand sticking close to their handlers throughout the store.
The kids and police weren’t the only ones excited to be part of the fun. About 25 teens, members of the Young Men and Young Women’s groups of the Island View 1st Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Clearfield again offered their help wrapping the hundreds of gifts the kids and their shopping partners picked out.
One advisor said the teens have been volunteering for several years and look forward to it all year.