Price City Police Sergeant Kelly Maynes took over the Shop With a Cop program back in 2015, stating that during his over 21 years in law enforcement, the program has been hosted every year.
Prior to Sgt. Maynes running the show, retired Wellington City Police Chief Lee Barry headed the program for several years and obtained funding. Retired Price City Sgt. Tracy Allred then took over the program for some time before turning it over to Sgt. Maynes. He stated that over the last three years, they have been successful in obtaining additional grants to assist in increasing the number of children they are able to serve with the program.
Walmart was credited as a huge sponsor of the program, due to the business providing a community grant each year to both Carbon and Emery counties for the purpose of Shop With a Cop. Sgt. Maynes stated that they have also been fortunate in receiving additional grant funding from the Utah Police Civilian Association, which has helped nearly double the number of children that can participate. An account is also established through Price City for any other community donations that come in.
As with many programs and events, the question this year was how to safely host the event and stay within the guidelines set forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The day of Shop With a Cop traditionally begins with breakfast for those participating, donated by the local McDonald’s and enjoyed at the Tuscan Event Center. However, due to the number of children, family members, officers and other volunteers, the breakfast was unable to be approved this year. The small parade from the Tuscan to the store is also not going to take place, which Sgt. Maynes credits as a huge setback personally.
“We would load up the kids in our police vehicles and slowly make our way to Walmart with the kids running the lights and sirens. This is truly as much fun for the officers as it is for the kids,” Sgt. Maynes shared.
Instead, the families will be directed to meet at Walmart and check-in at a booth outside of the store while each agency will come at staggered times to help limit the number of people entering the store. Sgt. Maynes remarked that they will also be requesting that all participating abide by the state’s mask mandate and Walmart’s policy regarding the use of masks in the store.
“There have been some concerns in regard to what we will do if a child or family gets exposed to COVID prior to the event and cannot attend. I want to assure any families that if their child has been chosen to be a part of the event and this occurs, we will do everything within our power to make sure they are still taken care of,” said Sgt. Maynes.
The Price City Police Department, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Helper City Police Department, Wellington City Police Department, East Carbon Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, and Adult Probation and Parole all participate and it is anticipated that at least 50 children will utilize the program this year. Sgt. Maynes explained that this event is one that is very special to the officers as they spend a lot of time responding to situations where they witness the struggles and issues that so many in the community face.
“This is such an important event that helps us to give back to our community in a way that hopefully helps our kids. Over the years, I have seen such generosity from our community and from the kids themselves. On several occasions, I have seen kids who come to the event with no thought of themselves and are looking to get gifts for their parents or siblings,” stated Sgt. Maynes.
He reflected on one particular instance where two young girls were very excited to purchase food for breakfast on Christmas morning. He stated that these girls had no idea what they needed and the manager of Walmart overheard. The store employees assisted in selecting food and cooking supplies and helped the girls write down instructions on how to prepare it. In the end, Sgt. Maynes said that Walmart donated the supplies for the girls, which allowed them to use the money from Shop With a Cop for themselves.
“We are truly blessed with the support we receive in our community and with the funding we have been able to receive each year to keep the program going and we so look forward to this every year,” concluded Sgt. Maynes.
This year’s Shop With a Cop program is slated to take place on Saturday, Dec. 19.