The Marshall County Fraternal Order of Police is doing a “Shop with a Cop” program on December 15.

This is the first time Marshall County will participate in the program. The program is free for local children that have been selected in fifth and sixth grades in Marshall County. These chosen children were recommended through schools and churches.

With this program, Rev. Richard Bartley, the secretary/treasurer of the Fraternal Order of Police Marshall County Alabama Lodge 18, said he hopes to break down the barriers between the Marshall County community and law enforcement by building a more trusting relationship.

He stated that it is a twofold program. The first part is to help underprivileged children. With Marshall County having 21 percent of the community at or below poverty level, Bartley hopes this program helps these children by providing for them and giving them a positive view of law enforcement.

He said the second part is to establish a relationship with the community.

The “Shop with a Cop” is meant to help create a positive relationship between the children in need throughout Marshall County and law enforcement. The shopping experience is to assist children and their families along with deterring them from deciding on a life of crime or violence.

There are 12 officers from Albertville, Guntersville, the Sheriff’s Department and State Troopers who will be participating. Right now, they have 25 total children from Claysville, Albertville and Guntersville who have been selected.

The event will have uniformed officers that have volunteered their time to be with the children. The will have breakfast and lunch at a designated destination. After the children spend some time with the members of law enforcement, they will then shop with their “Partner of the Day.” The children will be able to shop for family as well as themselves. It should take 4 hours for the program.

“This program is similar to a mini-mentorship,” Bartley said. “The program is looking to have a positive impact for the children.”

Bartley hopes that this program takes the negative publicity away from law enforcement and make it a positive for these children. The relationship between the police department and local communities are sometimes strained and with the program, they hope to address the issues and repair the relationship for the better.

“This program has been positive up north,” Reida Bartley, Richard’s wife said.

It has helped with children who may have been on the verge of crime. It has encouraged students to appreciate the police and not fear them.

The program has been highly successful and is used across the country. It is strictly voluntary.

The resources for “Shop with a Cop” are based on donations collected and volunteer officers who participate in the program.

This year they started it kind of late and they know that they are the new kids on the block so it will take time to become established. They would like to expand the program to children ages 6 and up without the limitation of a specific grade next year.

If you are interested in donating or have any questions, contact Richard Bartley at 256-302-4351 or through email at fopal338@gmail.com.

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