With Cop event builds friendships
By JOHN MILLER
December 21, 2017
Nineteen lucky students from across the Merced City School
District traded in their normal yellow school bus for a
special police escort to Merced Mall as a reward for their
dedication to scholastic achievement during Thursday morning’s
Shop with a Cop event.
ninth annual event was once again organized by the Merced
Police Department, the Merced Mall, and Merced City School
District. They pair students from throughout the Merced
area with one of Merced’s men and women in blue for
a day of fun, food, and holiday shopping.
dynamic duo went to Center Court to have a private session
with Santa Claus, complete with photos. Later, students
set off to shop till they dropped in pursuit of the perfect
presents for their family members and gifts for themselves.
student received $150 to spend as they completed their holiday
shopping. Once each student’s Christmas shopping was
complete for the holiday season, everybody made their way
over to a holiday themed eating area where officers dined
alongside of their young partners over a special meal provided
who participate in the event are chosen in part by school
principals who look for those who are experiencing special
circumstances. Among the many students chosen was 14-year-old
Edrian Figueroa of Cruickshank Middle School. Three months
ago, Figueroa made his way to Merced in the wake of Hurricane
Maria’s devastation of his hometown in Puerto Rico.
With his mother and sister by his side, Figueroa has fully
embraced the community and found himself a spot on the basketball
team. Excited to now be in California, he went on to say
he is grateful to be here, as he was faced with a lack of
running water, electricity, food and other resources in
Raquel Rios, who shopped alongside of him, described the
teen as an incredibly thankful young man who is grateful
for all of the opportunities he has.
not just the students who benefit from the experience, however.
The event also serves as a way for Merced Police Officers
to reconnect with the community, and particularly its youngest
residents, in a low-stress environment to remind themselves
of why they became a police officer.
child we get, they’re very humble kids,” explained
Officer Rios. “I remember what it’s like not
to have, to be a government kid, and getting free cheese.
It kind of puts you in a position back where you can remember
those things. But to now, as an adult, be able to come back
and give to them, it’s really something that make
me feel like it’s come full circle.”
went on to say that in particular she finds the connections
formed between the young students and officers to be particularly
valuable as they form a human bond and see them in a positive
shows them that whatever rank we are, we are human beings,
and we can all relate to them,” Rios said.