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Arizona Police Association Sponsors 'Shop With A Cop' Program For Needy Kids

By Kate Nolan, The Arizona Republic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The cost of an encounter in Scottsdale that involved 100 off-duty cops and 150 Scottsdale kids ages 9 to 15?

Priceless, according to the uniformed Scottsdale officers who participated in "Shop With a Cop," an annual yuletide event that pairs individual officers and children on a $200 shopping spree for each kid.

After breakfast Saturday at Scottsdale Community College, the kids were bused to the Target store on Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale, many plotting on store maps their campaigns for video games, bicycles, Barbies and athletic shoes.

Sponsored by the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, the event provides holiday boodle for kids who have few resources and reminds them that police officers are human.

"It's important that kids not see police as the people in Lethal Weapon waving their guns around," said Eric Williams, a crime prevention officer who used to be an officer in the schools. The kids thought it was pretty cool, too.

"I couldn't sleep last night - I tried, but it was hard," said Sarah Reischmann, 10. A half hour into her spree, the Yavapai Elementary School fourth-grader had tabbed $157 worth of goods, including a 3-foot model of a black Arabian horse with a lustrous hairlike tail.

The horse hadn't been on her list, only because such a glorious thing was unimaginable. Sarah took one look and said, "I want it, I want it, I want it!"

Then she turned to the shoe counter, gaily buckling on a pair of Mary Janes made of pink sequins, heel to toe.

"But you want shoes you can wear for school, don't you?" her personal shopper Detective Scott Williamson asked, nudging Sarah toward a more practical choice.

"I think we should go with it," said Sarah, popping the glittery pink slippers into her cart.

D.J. Aleman, 13, a member of Mohave Middle School's undefeated district championship basketball team, shopped with his coach, Detective Reggie Johnson, Mohave's resource officer. D.J. said the championship was his Christmas present to Johnson. The boy spent $55 on a very cool surprise for his mom that shouldn't be leaked to her in the daily newspaper.

Police Sgt. Janet Wraspir scrutinized the shopping list of Stephanie Peterson, 9, a second-grader at Yavapai who wanted a sleeping bag, Barbie house, something for Mom, a Shrek 2 DVD and shoes, size 3 ½. The duo headed for the shoes.

Stephanie favored shoes with little wheels on the soles - the kind that school authorities tend to ban.

"Your mom would kill me. Your principal would kill me," groaned Wraspir, relieved when the wheelies were unavailable in size 3½. Instead the shoppers picked out a sleeping bag for Stephanie to take to sleepovers.

Each pair of shoppers tracked their charges with a calculator. At $200, it was checkout time, with cops sometimes digging into their own pockets to cover overruns.

The day's charges: about $30,000, paid through community donations. For details on contributing: (480) 481-0909.

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