Departments team up for police presents

With sirens blaring nearly all the way from Pats Select Pizza and Grill of Smyrna to the Walmart in Middletown and back again, 28 local children joined 18 police officers for a shopping spree that touched the hearts of everyone involved.

Shop with a Cop, held on Saturday, involved officers from the Smyrna, Clayton, Cheswold and Kenton police departments and an officer from Delaware State Police Troop 9, according to Smyrna public information officer Cpl. Brandon Dunning.

Fourth grade teacher Ashley Stuart, of Clayton Elementary School, was shopping at Walmart while participants zipped through the aisles.

“I think this is a great way for them to learn about the cops in a positive way. They’re so happy right now. Those kids are pumped. I’m really glad to see them so happy,” she said.

Joe Licklider, store manager of Walmart in Middletown, said his team of employees was well-aware of the event ahead of time and even offered a community grant of $1,200 towards the program.

He sought out the Smyrna and Clayton-based event after speaking with a store manager from Maryland who previously participated in another local Shop with a Cop program.

“I saw that this was happening and there was a need for it. I said Walmart can help out with this. The whole team was aware and ready to be bombarded with the kids,” Licklider said.

Dunning said the group also received $2,700 in donations through a GoFundMe account and additional cash donations, all totaling to $4,175 to be used on lunch and shopping.

“Some of those officers even donate their own money if the kids go over. They just want to see them happy,” he said.

Children chosen to shop with a cop were picked from a pool of applicants submitted to the Smyrna Police Department. They each were asked to pick out items for themselves to enjoy, for others and necessary items such as coats or socks.

“You just never know what they’re going through,” Dunning added. “Some of them go through more than grown adults.”

After about an hour of filling their carts, participants were seen gathering their items and checking out with the help of their assigned officers.

Kaden Hogan, 6, was paired with Clayton Police Chief Brian Hill.

“His whole back seat is filled with my stuff,” Hogan said excitedly. “I got something for my mee-maw, a Nerf gun and a remote-controlled car. I can mess with my dog with my remote controlled car.”

Dunning said the Smyrna Police Department hopes to continue offering this program to children in the Smyrna and Clayton areas.

“The officers enjoy this as much, if not more than, the kids. It’s just a really great opportunity,” he said.