By Lt. Everardo Silva, AA/Public Information Officer
Calipatria State Prison
Calipatria State Prison and Centinela State Prison staff escorted disadvantaged kids to the store during the annual Shop With a Cop.
The event paired 90 Imperial Valley children with an officer from different law enforcement agencies throughout the Valley. The officers accompanied the excited shoppers to Target.
After having lunch on Dec. 13, the children participated in a procession of law enforcement vehicles which went from a local high school in El Centro to the store where the toy aisles quickly filled with young shoppers and accompanying law enforcement staff.
Calipatria SP Correctional Officer Estella Velasco has participated with the event for the last five years.
“It was an honor to be spending my morning with the two young children I had,” said Velasco.
The purpose of the event is to foster positive relationships between youth and law enforcement officers.
Young kids, ages 6 to 12, who have either been through a tragic experience or are underprivileged, are selected each year during the end-of-the-year holiday season to shop at the local area Target store to purchase a gift for themselves or gifts for members of their immediate family.
Each child is given a small amount of money to spend, normally $100. Approximately one to two children are assigned to each law enforcement personnel, who then escort them around the store and assist them in selecting gifts, said Velasco.
Community Resource Manager Claudia S. Macias, who is on the Shop with a Cop organizing committee, said the effects of the program are multifaceted.
Shop with a Cop hopes to break down the barriers between the community and the police with the intent of developing a better and more trusting relationship.