The Middleburg Heights Police Department has proven to be an elite force given its rigorous recruitment and training practices that rival federal law enforcement agencies.
But what makes the department truly shine is its ongoing push to connect with local residents and students to reinforce whom the good guys (and gals) are.
In its latest community outreach initiative, the MHPD participated in “Shop With a Cop”, a charitable program made up of police departments from across the region, state and country that help youngsters buy gifts for themselves and their families.
“Our principled and upstanding officers set a great example for our City’s children, and this philanthropic effort really is quite special as it highlights the good will in our community during the Christmas season,” said Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr.
Here’s the rundown:
A small group of local students – who need a little extra help with their holiday shopping – gather at the station for a tour and meet their respective police officer chaperone. Then, they pile into police cars and join a procession of cruisers and vehicles from neighboring departments that collectively motor to the Strongsville Wal-Mart.
The lucky shoppers receive a gift card upon arrival, funded by local raffle ticket sales, and wander the superstore with their cop who helps them decide what to buy.
Afterward, the children return to the station for pizza, dessert and a visit from Santa who hands out small gifts.
December 2016 marked the second year the department has participated in the program, and according to Police Chief John Maddox, “it was a memorable success that promises to become an annual tradition.”
Starr agrees the initiative is a “win-win” well worth repeating in the years to come.