by Michael Broggie, President and CEO, Prescott Police Foundation & Volunteer Member Citizens on Patrol, Prescott Police Department
Each year, children from throughout the Quad City Area are selected for a special treat prior to Christmas. They come from families that are financially challenged and are chosen by various community service agencies. They number nearly 100 each year.
What makes the event even more exciting for the children is that they are partnered with a member of law enforcement. They get to ride in a caravan of nearly 100 emergency vehicles, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Depending upon the logistics, the parade of vehicles either leaves from Prescott Valley to Prescott or the reverse.
According to Prescott Police Department’s dispatch personnel, the early Saturday morning sound of multiple sirens always prompts calls to their switchboard from folks wanting to know what the heck is going on. This, in spite of warnings published ahead in The Daily Courier newspaper.
This year, the caravan will arrive in Prescott at one of the Walmart stores.
Members of the cheerleader teams from Prescott High School or Prescott Valley High School line up in the entrance to greet the children.
Walmart has been a sponsor for a number of years, and provides the participants with free breakfast. Soon, the children, accompanied by their officer partners, are combing the shelves to select gifts for their families. The benefit amount each year varies, depending upon donations, but is usually from $200-$300 dollars per child. Participating officers often have to remind the children to select something for themselves, as they usually concentrate on gifts for everyone else in the family. After the selections, the school cheerleaders help with gift wrapping.
Another highlight is the arrival of Old Saint Nick, either by helicopter or a fire truck. He joins in on the festivities, greeting the children and officers and posing for photographs.
One of the volunteer units helping each year with traffic control is the Citizens On Patrol from the Prescott Police Department. They are positioned at intersections along the route to assure a safe procession of emergency vehicles.
Agencies involved in past years have included Arizona Highway Patrol, Yavapai Tribal Police Department, Prescott Valley Police Department, Prescott Police Department, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department, U.S Forest Service, Chino Valley Police Department, Paulden Police Department, Dewey-Humboldt Police Department and the Prescott Fire Department and Prescott Valley Fire Department. Officers involved represent all staffing levels, from patrol to command. The event provides an opportunity for positive reinforcement of the role of law enforcement personnel among some of the youngest members of our communities.
The public is invited to witness Shop With A Cop. This year’s location will be announced in The Daily Courier.