Alaska State Troopers shop for Juneau families at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2020 as part of the Alaska Police Officer Association’s annual “Shop with a Cop” event for Christmas. (Courtesy photo / Alaska State Troopers)

Alaska State Troopers shop for Juneau families at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2020 as part of the Alaska Police Officer Association’s annual “Shop with a Cop” event for Christmas. (Courtesy photo / Alaska State Troopers)

Law enforcement officials spread holiday cheer

Distancing didn’t dampen donations or detract from delight.

While the Shop with a Cop event wasn’t able to hold the usual in-person parade of police cars this year, law enforcement officials still spread a little holiday cheer.

“This year, because of COVID, it’s way different,” said Kirt Stage-Harvey, the president of the Juneau branch of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association, which organizes the event, in a phone interview. “We did really good fundraising this year. We have partners that donate year after year and some new people joined this year.”

The pandemic may have changed the vector, but not the intent, Stage-Harvey said.

“This year, instead of matching a law enforcement professional one on one, we did more of adopt a family style,” Stage-Harvey said. “Instead it’s up to the law enforcement professionals to get in touch with the family.”

Department of Corrections Officer Ed Irizarry and TSA Officer Brenda Irizarry, along with their daughter, Bridget, deliver presents to April Nestler and her son, Owen as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event. (Courtesy photo / APOA)

Department of Corrections Officer Ed Irizarry and TSA Officer Brenda Irizarry, along with their daughter, Bridget, deliver presents to April Nestler and her son, Owen as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event. (Courtesy photo / APOA)

About 40 officers matched with 57 kids spread around Juneau — and one family in Petersburg.

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“We got a family nominated from Juneau out in Petersburg,” Stage-Harvey said. “We reached out to the Petersburg police and they’re going to adopt their own family.”

With their shopping for gifts and food completed, officers would meet with their family, dropping off the donation-funded largesse.

“The whole idea of this program is positive law enforcement contact throughout the community,” Stage-Harvey said. “That’s hopefully part of the experience even this year. It’s a little more work for the individual officers this year.”

Courtesy photo / APOA
Pretrial Enforcement Officer Linda Wahl delivers presents to and Donald, Sandra, Alice, and Kaylanna as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

Courtesy photo / APOA Pretrial Enforcement Officer Linda Wahl delivers presents to and Donald, Sandra, Alice, and Kaylanna as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

While he’s glad they were able to make it work this year, he hopes that they’ll be able to safely return to the original form soon, Stage-Harvey said.

“The great thing is the one-on-one contact and the cop car. Lights and sirens are fun, especially for the younger kids,” Stage-Harvey said. “We have several families with multiple kids. We might have to retool a little to serve the bigger families. But still, the ultimate goal is still one on one contact with the officer.”

The program has been around for a bit less than 10 years here, Stage-Harvey said, of which he’s personally been involved for about five. The APOA received about $10,000 in donations to support the philanthropic gesture. Showing the JPD is a positive and integrated part of the community is especially important now, Stage-Harvey, as national attitudes shift against law enforcement officials.

“I want to give a shout out to Fred Meyer,” Stage-Harvey said. “They’re donating 20% to all purchases.”

Law enforcement officers and volunteers deliver presents to families at the AWARE shelter on Dec. 23, 2020 as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Law enforcement officers and volunteers deliver presents to families at the AWARE shelter on Dec. 23, 2020 as part of the Alaska Police Officer’s Association annual “Shop with a Cop” event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Members of the JPD and Alaska State Troopers along with Santa Claus also visited local shelters to bring gifts to families spending the holidays there on Wednesday. Supported by the FBI, TSA, members of the Department of Corrections and other law enforcement officials, uniformed officers and volunteers brought gifts for children and adults. That program has been ongoing for about seven years, Stage-Harvey said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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