After nearly a decade, Prairie Village’s ‘Shop with a Cop’ continues to brighten holidays for group of youngsters

Prairie Village Police Detective Caroline Van Cil helped one of the Shop with a Cop participants select gifts Thursday.

Board games, fuzzy socks and Legos filled shopping carts as Prairie Village police officers spread out through the aisles at Target in Mission to bring the holiday spirit to 10 elementary children on Thursday afternoon.

The Prairie Village Police Department held its ninth annual “Shop with a Cop” event, which provides children the chance to pick out presents for themselves and their loved ones. This year, each child had a shopping budget of $250. Funds for the event were secured through partnerships across the city, said Prairie Village Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf.

“It gives us an opportunity to give back a little bit to the community,” Schwartzkopf said. “In partnership with the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation, local businesses and other donors, we’re able to provide a fun shopping experience to some kids from Prairie Village.”

Officers assist the children in picking out gifts and keeping track of the funds, but they also monitor what the children choose to purchase. For instance, officers want to make sure the children aren’t getting a video game that might be inappropriate for their age, Schwartzkopf said.

“Shop with a Cop” is more than just a fun afternoon of shopping, Schwartzkopf said. Not only does it serve as a way to help out around the holidays, but it fosters a relationship between young people in the community and the police department, he said.

Once the holiday shopping comes to an end, dinner is provided to the children at the police station. While they eat and tour the department, volunteers wrap the children’s purchases — free of charge. Although the children are the ones shopping, Schwartzkopf said both parties share the joy.

“At the end of the day, I think — we certainly enjoy doing this — and think our officers get as much out of this experience as the kids do,” he said.

In addition to the donations from local businesses and the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation, which sponsors the event, funds are collected from cell phone recycling. All proceeds from cell phone recycling donations go directly to the “Shop with a Cop” event, according to the city’s website.