Stevensville Police Clerk Kristin Kruse is excited about the “Shop with a Cop” program she’s creating for the Stevensville Police Department. A former events coordinator who moved to Stevensville with her husband Steve about a year ago, Kruse said that she originally thought about trying to organize a toy drive but then she heard about this program that pairs a child with a police officer for an afternoon of gift shopping for themselves and family members. Not only does the program directly help the kids, but it fosters good relationships between young people and local law enforcement.
Kruse is working with Stevensville’s new police chief, Mac Sosa, who was very enthusiastic about the idea. They hope to get the program up and running for their first participants within the next couple of weeks.
The target group they hope to involve is: children from families that have a financial need and/or kids who are struggling but are trying hard to overcome adversity. They will be working with the school to receive recommendations of potential candidates.
Selected children will set a date with one of Stevensville’s police officers wo will pick them up in a police car, take them shopping at Target or Walmart, then bring them back to the police station to wrap presents and have pizza together. The program is working very successfully in Great Falls, said Kruse, and the police department there shared the details of their program with her. Great Falls serves about 60 children through its program.
“Of course, we can tailor it to our own preferences and needs,” said Kruse. She said they might start out very small, perhaps with one or two children from each of the elementary, middle and high schools. She said that with their small force, they will have to carefully fit this in to the officers’ other duties.
“We have two new officers starting this month,” said Kruse, “and they all want to participate.”
Funding for the program is coming from the local community, not the police department budget. Project 59870 has committed $1000 towards the program, and will be the sponsoring non-profit organization. Anyone wishing to donate can send a check to Project 59870, P.O. Box 8, Stevensville MT 59870 (put “Shop with a Cop” in the memo). Donations are tax-deductible.
Kruse said that anyone who knows of a child that could benefit from “Shop with a Cop” can call her at 777-3011 (leave message) or email her at [email protected]
“I’ve been here a year and I love Stevensville. As someone new, I feel really pulled to make some positive things happen,” said Kruse. “And I want to support the police department in any way I can. We have an awesome police chief. It’s a great time to bolster that.”
She said she’s also thinking ahead to some other things they could do. “I want to create traditions that build over time.”