Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Shop with a Cop

I am prone to being judgmental.  One of the ways I fight that weakness is to establish a human connection with the person I am liable to judge.

For example, I will be waiting in the checkout lane at Walmart and will be cussing the snail-like pace.  I will look at the checkout lady and she will be moving more slowly than my expectation.

When I get up close, I usually see that she is tired.  She is dead-on-her-feet, wrung out tired.

Sometimes the checkout lady has the energy and inclination to chat.

I learned that many of them are working multiple jobs.

Even more often they are in a care-giver role.  My personal favorite was the young, single lady who was watching her cousin's five children (a set of twins and a set of triplets, all under age six) so her cousin could go on a two week honeymoon with her husband before he was re-deployed.

Cops.  Lots of them.

Today I was waiting in the checkout lane when I saw cops trickling into Walmart.  Normally, I get nervous when I see several cops entering a store, but these guys were relaxed.  They did not have the Left-Center-Right, Near-Mid-Far scan going on.

An official looking gentleman standing near the entrance appeared to be directing them.

I stopped and chatted with the official as I left.

Eaton County Undersheriff Jeff Cook

The official was Eaton County (Michigan) Undersheriff Jeff Cook.

He said that the department was loaning some personnel to Walmart for their annual Shop with a Cop program.

Undersheriff Cook was adamant that this charitable program was a local (Charlotte) Walmart initiative.  The Walmart employees made the donations.  The employees picked the recipients (this year it was ten families) of the charity.  He supplied uniformed policemen to escort the shoppers, to push the carts and, I assume, to provide some strong parental models.  Earlier,  I had seen one cop carrying a rather clingy 4 year old girl around the store.

I looked around and did not see any local media types.  I asked about that.

Undersheriff Cook reiterated that the program was Walmart's.  It was their call if they did not want to risk media coverage.  It is not the Sheriff Department's policy to go sniffing around for favorable media coverage (not his exact words).

Well, that is just plain wrong

See, I told you I was judgmental.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ ... ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’   - Matthew 25: 35,36,40 NAB Translation

A local business is doing God's work and they are so spooked by ambush reporting that they want to avoid attention.  I also respect that they are helping people for all the right reasons i.e., to help rather than self-aggrandizing.

I also understand that Walmart must be doubly cautious because they are a particularly juicy target for editorials.   The most innocent and altruistic act on the part of any Walmart employee is likely to be fashioned into a missile to further an editor's personal agenda.

I think the general public needs stories like this.  We need inspirational, feel-good stories.  And there is something truly heroic about people working two jobs to make ends meet...and they still find money to throw into the kitty to help others who are less fortunate than they are.

I asked Undersheriff Cook if I could take pictures.  He asked me not to.  The Charlotte Walmart wants to protect the dignity of their shoppers and does not want to pollute the gesture by publicizing photos.

And it is refreshing to see public officials who do not seek the lime-light, who let local business run their own show and who are respectful of people's dignity.


  1. On one hand it IS commendable, on the other pretty damn sad that they are ducking publicity for the good work they are doing!

    1. It is sad but it is something I can make a little bit better.

      As a blogger I can "report" stories that big media misses or considers not-economical to report because I have no paycheck that must be justified. I can also lean on journalistic guidelines like, "You must have pictures."

      I hope I have enough local readers so the essay gets back to the folks at Walmart. To let them know that this community sees and approves.

      Thanks for commenting

  2. Around here Shop With A Cop is done through the police departments, not the local WalMart store (although they do shop at WalMart so there must be some affiliation). A big deal is made of it for the kids...they get to ride to the store with their cop in a cruiser with lights and sirens on (but not speeding!) and then do all their shopping, and then go back to a drop off point in the cruiser. I've never seen any media coverage, though, except maybe an occasional blurb in the local paper. I wish there would be more good stories out there about police officers...for every bad cop that makes the news there are hundreds of good ones working to keep people safe.

  3. I remember the comments of a church volunteer who participated in a back to school giveaway of the smell of drugs and booze and rude behavior of the entitlement class that this program might help with. She wont be helping next year.:^(


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