P1 Humor Corner: Fun (and funny) at the fundraiser

One of the best things about wearing the badge is working the badge. Work it, work it, work it!

Ok, let me clarify before you hurt yourself. A career in law enforcement is just one of the many ways to give back to your community. But as a police officer there are unique opportunities that allow you to really give back and in an exceptional and distinctive way.

Through fundraising!

Whether it’s your agency, local police officer association, or an international organization like The Law Enforcement Torch Run which benefits the Special Olympics, representing your department at an approved fundraiser or charity event reflects highly upon you and the agency you work for.

This comes with a warning though — the side-effect of police fundraisers and charity work is loads of fun with tons of laughter and camaraderie.

Jell-O Shots
Have you ever seen a swimming pool full of cherry-flavored Jell-O? There are a lot of exciting, attention-grabbing ways to raise money for a charity. One of the more interesting events I participated in was the Jell-O Slide.

If you are one of the few law enforcement people participating in something as amusing as this, it's fun to see the reaction on peoples’ faces when “the cop” takes his or her turn.

When I started climbing the ladder, it dawned on me that nobody had yet gone down the slide backwards facing the wrong direction!

I had done this many times as a heathen child at the local swimming pool only to have the lifeguard blow his whistle at me.

You know the saying: No Cop, No Stop. Wait a minute, I’m a cop. I can do this!

I’m wearing my short sleeve uniform shirt (minus all the hardware) and a pair of 70s-style polyester baseball shorts to match my 70s-style moustache with an extra layer of hairspray so I look even more stupid when I surface from my reverse plunge into the wiggle red pool below.

I position myself knowing that in a few short seconds I will be drenched.

Down I go, backwards with my eyes closed, one hand pinching off my nose looking like a little bitch! Splash! My first thought was “that was fun” and my second thought was “I’ve got 20 pounds of Jell-O in my shorts!”

Maybe I should have gone down the slide facing forward.

Dunking Booths
We’ve all seen the dunking booths at the school carnivals. It gives students no greater joy than to hit the target and watch their favorite teacher or assistant principal take the big drop into the tank below. Everybody remembers instinctively the name of their assistant principal.

People forget who the principal was, but never the assistant principal: he was the one handing out detention notices (and whacks, depending on how old you are!).

It’s always exciting when ‘the cop’ or DARE officer has a turn inside the dunking booth. Suddenly there is a long line of kids with a few squinty eyed parents mixed in who look like they may have recently lost their driving privileges for whatever reason, wanting to take a toss (or 10).

If it’s a police officers' association fundraiser and the Chief gets in the booth, that’s when the fun really starts.

I usually just walk up and hit the bull’s eye with my hand, dropping the Chief into the water.

Try it.

It’s funny.

The first time.

Chili cook-offs, BBQ cook-offs, golf tournaments, 5K fun runs, police pistol competitions, ‘Guns & Hoses’ boxing events, raffles, and car washes are always fun.

Here’s an idea: take roasting administration around the squad room coffee pot to the next level, have a comedy night where eight to 10 cops get five minutes on stage to do a standup comedy routine with a panel of judges awarding the top three trophies or plaques.

Ticket sales, entrance fees, sponsors, and donations can add up fast for that sort of thing.

An interesting fundraising event is the Adopt-a-Cop program sponsored by a major company. Each floor in a high rise building adopts a police officer for one week and the employees put on mini fundraising projects both on their floor and outside the office after hours to raise money for their officer. This type of competition makes for great bragging rights.

If you work the night shift, you have the advantage. It’s just one week so when you get off your shift you can stop by your floor and help serve up breakfast (think mini fundraising event) or go by at noon and arrest the organization’s president, CEO or top dog. March this person around the office in one of your jail jump suits handcuffed and occasionally make him “spread ‘em!”

Tip a Cop
Not to be confused with tipping a cow, the tip-a-cop officers help seat guests and refill non-alcoholic beverages on a Friday or Saturday evening at a Red Lobster, Chili’s, or Applebee’s type restaurant. This is another great way to raise awareness for your charity, raise money and have fun.

Extra tip money above what customers would give their wait staff goes to your fundraiser.

Along with passing out the charity flyer or brochure, I always made sure I had plenty of stick-on police badges for the kids and “Get out of Jail” free cards for the parents (I mean trading cards, which I also gave the kids).

Sometimes you had to explain that it wasn’t some double-reverse sting operation in progress, just a fundraiser.

“Enjoy your meal, punk!”

Like any fundraising event, publicity is very important. Get those PSAs out and get the media involved. Use online evites and Facebook and email blasts to everybody.

Charity events and fundraising send a positive message to the communities you represent on so many levels. There is no doubt that fundraising can be fun and it does a lot for a department’s morale and camaraderie.

About the author

Mike Peterson is a retired 23-year veteran of law enforcement. He served three years in the United States Military Police and then 20 years with the City of West University Place Police Department in Houston, Texas. Mike held a Master Peace Officer certification and was a Certified Instructor, Advanced Field Training Officer, Crime Prevention Inspector, and background investigator. He was certified in bicycle patrol, officer survival tactics, first line supervision, and City Manager Leadership Training. Mike is a graduate of Leadership Houston, Class XIV, Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run Top Fundraiser and Inductee into the Texas Special Olympics Hall of Fame (1996), three time Texas Torch Run representative for International Special Olympics torch run ‘Final Legs’ in Minnesota (1991), Austria (1993) and Connecticut (1995). Mike has received numerous Senate and House of Representative Resolutions and Proclamations for his fundraising with the Law Enforcement Torch Run as Texas’ Top Fundraiser.

Mike has appeared on ABC-TV’s ‘The View’, was a past finalist on Ed McMahon’s ‘Next Big Star’ contest and was a finalist in Houston Funniest Comedian contest. Mike has opened for such luminaries as Jay Leno, Robert Schimmel, Dave Attell, Richard Lewis, Kathleen Madigan, Jeff Dunham, Frank Caliendo, Michael Winslow, Anjelah Johnson, Ralphy May, and Alonzo Bodden to name a few. Mike has appeared numerous times on Houston’s local CBS ‘Great Day Houston’ and opened for four-Time Grammy Award Winner Glen Campbell as well as performing at police luncheons and banquets. Mike has also had the honor of performing for our Troops over in Iraq. You can see more of Mike on www.myspace.com/comedycop or www.rooftopcomedy.com.

Contact Mike Peterson.

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