OROVILLE – On Dec. 13, children from Tonasket and Oroville will spend the day with local officers during the Shop With a Cop program.
Organized by Senior Patrol Agent David J. McElheran, the program will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Border Patrol Office in Oroville. The children will watch a ‘G’ rated movie donated by Appleway Video with the officers.
“Then we’ll go to Oroville High School and play kickball with the kids,” McElheran said. “After that, we’ll do a siren parade during which the kids will get to make a lot of noise with the cars as we go to lunch in Oroville.”
After the lunch, the siren parade will pick up again to take the officers and the children to Prince’s Center where everything the children and officers buy together will have a 30 percent discount.
McElheran, who brought this program with him from New Mexico, said it is designed to form better relationships between children and officers.
“When we deal with children in a law enforcement setting, it’s usually not good,” he said. “Generally speaking, we’re viewed as the bad guys because we’re taking away parents and we’re big men with guns.”
Through donations, the program will sponsor each child with $100. Eighty dollars will be spent to purchase essential and winter clothing while the remaining $20 can be used for either a toy or gift for the children. McElheran said the target age group of the children is five to 14 years old. The children will be recommended to the program by their teachers who will ask parents if they are okay with their children being involved.
“Our goal is to help the kids, not embarrass them so we’ll be doing this as diplomatically as possible,” McElheran said.
He said that as of Tuesday, Nov. 25, there was enough money to fund 35 children.
“All our donations right now are from the Oroville area and we’ve allocated $1,000 to Tonasket,” McElheran said at the Tonasket Chamber of Commerce meeting on Nov. 25. He said that any donations made after Dec. 1 will go toward the program for next year.
This program will include not only Border Patrol agents, but Oroville police officers and Tonasket police officers as well.
“We’re having as many law enforcement agents participating as possible,” McElheran said.
He said the day should finish around 2 p.m., depending on how well the officers do with time while shopping with the kids. He also said no child would be released from the program to someone who is not listed as the person to be picking up the child.
“The safety of the kids is paramount,” McElheran said.