RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh Police Department's annual "Shop with a Cop" day is a highlight for the children who participate, and this year it's a potential big deal for Chief Estella Patterson as she begins her fourth month as the city's top officer.
"When I first got here, we talked about doing something like this," said Patterson. "I knew they already had been doing it, and I was so excited to hear it. So I am just thrilled! It's an opportunity for parents to come by and see what is happening."
"Shop with a Cop" day is happening at a time when some people view the police with suspicion or fear of a potentially fatal encounter. The chief sees the program as a bridge builder between her officers and those they are sworn to protect and serve. The young participants range in age from 6 to 16 years old.
"And they're recommended by a counselor, by a school SRO, by our officers, by community members. Basically, we're looking for kids who have good character, who are kind to others, and this is an opportunity to really reward them for being good citizens," said Patterson. "One of the kids came up to me and said, 'I'm gonna shop with you!' That made me feel really good, just to know he's excited about this opportunity."
ABC11 will check back with Chief Patterson to see if programs like "Shop with a Cop" do make a difference in relationships between police and the members of the community who still mistrust law enforcement.