Hundreds of police officers roll ‘Code 3’ with sirens blaring to Walmart, Target for ‘Shop with a Cop’

WASHINGTON COUNTY — After a warm breakfast on a chilly Saturday morning, officers, sheriff’s deputies, troopers and other law enforcement agents from all over Washington County and beyond escorted nearly 130 lucky kids to Walmart and Target for a Christmas shopping adventure.

Officers partner up with their young wards during Shop with a Cop breakfast held at the fairgrounds at Washington County Legacy Park, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The annual “Shop with a Cop” festivities kicked off with introductions as officers met their assigned children at 7 a.m. and then together enjoyed an early breakfast at the fairgrounds at Washington County Legacy Park. The breakfast was courtesy of a group of officers and other volunteers who awoke early to cook for several hundred officers, participants and children.

The purpose of the breakfast is two-fold — the first is to make sure the children and their uniformed partners are fueled up before the special shopping affair, while the second allows them a little time to get to know their partner before they embark on a morning of shopping.

Police chiefs, captains and lieutenants served sausage, eggs and pancakes from tables lined along the dining hall, a task many of them have done for years.

Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap was in charge of flipping pancakes at the large grill set up outside of the dining area. When asked how many years he’s spent volunteering for the Shop With a Cop breakfast, he said “many, many years,” adding that he will continue to do so “for as long as they let me.”

For Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher, the breakfast comes at the end of a long week of cooking, with several county and agency celebration dinners behind him.

“It’s been crazy,” he said.

Once the massive group left the fairgrounds, it was “Code 3” with lights and sirens activated all the way to one of three Walmart stores — in Hurricane, Washington City and St. George — or to the Target store on River Road in St. George.

Drone footage of the procession of more than 100 police vehicles was provided to St. George News courtesy of Chef Hog and can be viewed at the top of this report. 

Walmart participates in the program each year, playing an important role in the Shop With a Cop program.

A caravan of hundreds of police vehicles leave the fairgrounds at Washington County Legacy Park during the Shop with a Cop event, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Each of the stores makes preparations by stocking extra toys and merchandise, designating cash registers and setting up wrapping stations the night before. Extra associates are on hand to help with locating various items, and the company also provides a grant to help with shopping costs, in addition to donating all of the wrapping supplies.

The Washington County Explorer cadets were on hand at the wrapping stations helping officers gift wrap items.

Officers and their junior partners were also seen in the merchandise aisles at Target on River Road. This was a first for the big-box store after the retailer reached out to the St. George Police Department to make arrangements for the Saturday morning shopping spree, St. George Police officer Lona Trombley said.

Alan Asay, Target’s asset protection manager, said Target’s involvement is based on the belief that the community is what makes the store successful, so it just makes sense to give back by participating in programs like Shop With the Cop.

Asay said the three Target stores in Las Vegas are already involved in the program and it was a great time for the St. George Target to come on board and be a part of it.

“We are so excited about this,” Asay said, “and Target loves to help communities.”

Trombley has been organizing and coordinating the event for the St. George Police Department for more than nine years. She said she is amazed every year at how giving and grateful the children are who participate, including a second-grade class at Bloomington Elementary that raised $200 for the program.

Police officers shop with their junior partners during Shop with a Cop at Target on River Road, St. George, Utah, Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Generosity like that of the second-graders made it possible to take even more children shopping this year.

“In that past, we’ve been able to help 100 children, but thanks to the additional funds we were able to provide toys to 30 more children this year,” Trombley said.

Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Brock Bentley said that the St. George Police Department has been involved in tracking donations provided by numerous businesses, organizations and individuals, which has in turn expanded the reach of the program. He commended the efforts of Trombley and St. George Police officer David Slack.

“They’ve really done a great job this year,” Bentley said, “and the generosity of the community as a whole is what makes this program possible.”

Behind the scenes is retired police officer Carl Johnston, who now works in a civilian capacity with the Washington County Explorer Program. He tracks the families, assigns each child to an officer and takes care of the arrangements for the shopping spree.

Johnston is “the backbone of the program,” Bentley said.

This year, the Desert Rodders of Southern Utah car club raised an unprecedented amount of money for the program, providing more than $8,000 to the program through fundraising efforts.

Group photo taken during the Shop with a Cop breakfast held at the fairgrounds at Washington County Legacy Park, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Julian LaBlanc with Desert Rodders said that the funds were raised through a dinner the club hosts every year, with additional help from a car show. LaBlanc said 100 percent of the money raised goes into the program.

When asked why the car club puts forth so much effort, LaBlanc said, “Because it’s for the kids — it’s all about these kids having a great Christmas. That’s it.”

Desert Rodders is also involved in the “Toys for Tots” program.

Bentley said numerous other businesses, individuals and groups donated more to the program this year, many of which donate every year. In addition to the money provided by these entities, officers and their families donate their time in support of the annual event.

“It takes a generous community, all of the officers and their families and so many individuals that work behind the scenes to make this happen,” Bentley said. “Take away any one of those elements and we wouldn’t have the Shop with the Cop program.”

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Events, NewsTagged , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

  • Kilroywashere December 16, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Got only one thing to say. God bless the local law enforcement and those who donated to this cause along with Walmart and their employees. I am sure going shopping with those little kids was a blessing as well. Keep up the good work, and I want to thank on behalf of our entire community the sacrafice you all make day in and day out throughout the year, to keep the peace, save lives, and catch criminals. Keep on doing what you are doing, and let’s hope in 2019 Santa gives all of you a raise.

  • KR567 December 17, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Yeah we were at some of the stores they went to ….their awesome !!!!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.