BY HAILEY MINTON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ROY CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
SHOP WITH A HERO TRADITION: A FAVORITE FOR POLICE OFFICERS AND FIRE DEPARTMENT
The kids absolutely love getting to ride in the police car with the lights and sirens and then going shopping. The Walmart employees line the entrance, applauding as the kids come in. Santa flies in on a helicopter or rides in on a firetruck if the weather calls for it. “It’s great every single year,” said Detective Joshua Taylor.
The Roy Police department teams up with the fire department to put on the “Shop with a Hero” event every year. Throughout Weber County, they get together before Christmas and take kids out for breakfast and shopping. They do this for kids who they think deserve an extra special Christmas that year.
Taylor has participated in the program for eight years. “Honestly, I think the excitement on the kids’ faces tells it all.” He explained that a lot of the kids don’t realize they’re living in a situation that is more difficult than other kids. They think their lives are normal. The different departments enjoy giving the kids the excitement of everything involved in the Shop with a Hero experience. “We always want to have a positive impact on kids’ lives.” When Taylor was a child, the South Ogden Police had an event for kids, and his involvement in it inspired his career choice. They’re not necessarily hoping all these kids will grow up to be police officers, but they’re hoping it can make a positive difference in some way. “Sometimes, we could be arresting their parents, or we are in and out of their home for whatever reason. So, it’s a good positive impact on the kids for both police and fire to get to see the other side of it.
“It’s interesting because a lot of these kids don’t have a whole lot. When you go to Walmart and tell them they have $100-$150, or whatever the limit might be for that year, a lot of times they’ll think about their family and get gifts for them. They don’t have to do anything in particular with [the money]. They can buy toys, clothes, and a lot of times, they’ll buy a candle for their mom or a toy for their little brother. It’s very rewarding to spend time with the kids.”
Taylor agreed that their jobs as police officers aren’t always a positive experience, since they’re telling people things they don’t want to hear or arresting them. “Being a police officer is stressful. You’re put in situations where you have to see things that aren’t part of normal life for most people. [This Shop with a Hero program] is definitely great for both sides. Not every day is stressful for us, but it is good for officers to experience something different. We get to see good things, we get to see bad things, but I’d say sometimes the bad outweighs the good.”
The people that police officers interact with can be in tough situations. Sometimes, officers recognize they can make a difference by a donation of some sort. The department has a fund called My Impact Program, where officers can donate money every month. That fund is an organized way to provide for others instead of officers pulling the money directly from their own pockets whenever they feel like they should. They don’t advertise that they do this, but this is something that happens year-round. “As officers, we never really talk about it. It’s just something we do.” Sometimes, that means purchasing beds for children who don’t have their own. Other times, it’s providing a Thanksgiving meal or delivering Christmas gifts for an entire family.
Taylor has only worked for the Roy Police Department, but he believes we have a good community that is really supportive of the police. “We haven’t been following some of the same trends with other cities. I think we’ve been very fortunate that we have a really good community.” He admitted it’s cliche to say it, but he really believes we have a good police department too. “We have a lot of really good people who are here and want to serve the community. They’re not just here because they want to beat up bad guys and get into police chases. They want to do good in the community.”
I’m sure you’ve seen the black and white flags with the blue stripe across the center. Before writing this, I understood it as a symbol of the police force, but I’ll share with you what I learned as I looked deeper. According to nationalpolice.org, it is not a flag of defiance or a battle cry by police officers of aggression toward the public. The thin blue line represents the men and women who stand in the gap between the lawless and the innocent. It represents the men and women who have died as they refuse to let that line be broken. For those who dedicate their lives to maintaining the peace, it means they are a part of something bigger than themselves. For the civilians, it says they are willing to join in everyone’s responsibility to maintain peace.
This time of year, we tend to focus on generosity, kindness, goodwill, and peace. I’m grateful for our Roy Police Officers who play an invaluable role in preserving the peace we enjoy here. I’m also grateful that their job connects them with the people of this city, and they get to be involved in this positive tradition for those in need. I believe they deserve it.