TOMPKINSVILLE – Nearly 60 Monroe County middle and high school students had the opportunity to go shopping Wednesday with members of local law enforcement agencies and others.
The annual Tompkinsville Police Department Shop with a Cop event actually started with an early lunch at La Tia Mexican restaurant before they loaded up again on two school buses and headed to Walmart.
TPD Officer Jordan Page said the restaurant gives them a special price on the food for the children, “so they help out tremendously with that end of it.”
This is his third year with the department and for participating with the event, he said.
He was among those in a line of law enforcement vehicles from four agencies had filed into the store's parking lot a little while before the buses arrived.
“We just do it every year to give the kids a chance to have a Christmas that are here in the community of Tompkinsville and Monroe County,” Page said. “They're selected through a program through the school system. … Honestly, there's no better feeling once you actually take the kids inside and let them pick and decide some stuff that they get to buy. They're all allotted $100 to spend.”
They had a list of more practical items like clothing, shoes and personal care items that they encourage the youths to get first before they start looking for things like games or toys.
He said a lot of times, they will pick out something for one of their siblings.
“That'll kind of jerk at you a little bit when you see something like that happen,” he said, speaking of the emotions it stirs.
A total of about 16 law enforcement personnel from TPD, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, TPD dispatchers, school personnel and other volunteers like friends and family members of the officers participated.
Monroe County Sheriff Dale “Frog” Ford, as he waited at the checkout line with his shopping buddy, said he started the event back when he was police chief.
“I was a kid at one time, and I've never forgot that, and I was raised as poor as any of them, and when I got in a position where I could give back, I wanted to give back, and I wanted to give this a try, and it's been the greatest thing in my career. I love it,” he said.
When he became sheriff five years ago, he passed responsibility for the project to Kerry Denton, then an officer, now assistant chief and a school resource officer for TPD, who still coordinates the event.
“Kerry's done a fantastic job with this program,” Ford said. “I'm so proud of this program. I'm just happy to be here because the money that's collected for this stays in Monroe County and helps the kids of Monroe County.”
Denton, who had also made the rounds with a student of his own, at one point showed the Glasgow Daily Times a $100 bill that a random shopper in the store had spontaneously contributed toward the program after seeing what they were doing. He said it's not uncommon at all for people to just hand him money while they're there.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Allen Shirley was in line in front of Ford.
He said he enjoys helping out with the kids.
“There's always a lot of kids that show up, and sometimes the Tompkinsville [PD] and Monroe County Sheriff's Office are kind of understaffed, so anytime that one of us can come down here and represent the Kentucky State Police in something like this, that's always good for us,” Shirley said.
Though he was the only KSP person at this event, many of the KSP posts, including Columbia-based Post 15, which includes Monroe County, and Bowling Green-based Post 3, which includes Barren County, have their own Shop with a Cop events as well.
Page said that other programs focus on helping the younger children, so this program is helps the older ones.