Va. Police Trading Cards Popular With Kids, Adults
by Jessie Halladay, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
SMITHFIELD, Va. -- When police Officer David Minns walks into the
Hardy Elementary School cafeteria, the children notice.
Some run up and give him hugs. Others wave animatedly, until it looks
as if they'll shake their arms off in excitement. Still others call
out hellos with mouths half full of peanut butter and jelly.
But when Minns starts handing out his new trading cards, pandemonium sets
Youngsters flock to Minns and the other Smithfield police officers,
wanting to get one of the trading cards that are fast becoming
collectibles. The department gave each of its officers 1,000
baseball-style cards with the individual officer's photograph and
biographical information on it.
The cards _ paid for through a community-policing grant _ act as
public relations for the Smithfield department, which is trying hard
to reach out to children.
"This was a way to personalize the officers," Police Chief Mark Marshall
This isn't a new idea. Hampton, York County and West Point have done
it. Marshall admits that he borrowed the idea from other departments.
In Smithfield, officers began handing out cards and signing them at
the town's 250th anniversary celebration in September.
For many of the Hardy pupils, the cards are just as cool as getting
baseball great Cal Ripken Jr.'s signature when he was in town for the
"I think they're really cool," 7-year-old Katie Potter said. "I'm
going to keep them where I keep my Cal Ripken Jr. ball because I got
his signature, too."
For Hardy Principal Richard Crawford, the cards are a neat new
element in the regular visits that the officers make to his school.
It's not unusual to find an officer sitting down to lunch with a
group of children at Hardy. Pupils love seeing the officers so much,
Crawford said, the officers were asked to sign scrap paper, napkins
or lunch boxes for kids wanting autographs.
"It's about time the heroes that matter get the recognition,"
Crawford said. "I'm really tickled about the trading cards."
Third-grader James Kitchen had five cards by the end of one recent
lunch appearance from the officers. That's enough to start a pretty
good collection, the 8-year-old said.
"I like that they give us a signature," James said. "I hope that
they'll come back and different ones will come."
The cards have gotten so much attention, it's not just the kids who want
"I've had more adults ask for them than kids," Officer Clarence
Seamster said. "They're rapidly becoming collector's items.
"It has just made an enormous public impact. It makes what we do worthwhile."