‘The officers are just as excited as the kids’ 

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Cullman Police Department Sgt. Joey Duncan, along with a volunteer, checks out at a register dedicated to the 10th annual Shop with a Cop event on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (contributed)

Shop with a Cop 2023 

CULLMAN, Ala. – There seemed to be a uniformed officer down nearly every aisle on Saturday morning at Cullman’s south Walmart. No, it wasn’t a high-stakes shoplifting ring bust – it was the Cullman Police Department’s annual Christmas outreach event, Shop with a Cop, and this year was made even more special by the department celebrating a full decade of serving kids in the community who may need an extra boost during the holidays. 

Dozens of officers and volunteers acted as personal shoppers for the morning for the 18 children selected for the program, piling carts high with clothes and wintertime necessities before hitting the main event: the toy aisles. Each child got a budget totaling just under $500 to shop ‘til they dropped, then a quick ride in a patrol vehicle to hit Chik-fil-A for a frosty vanilla cone and warm, crispy chicken. 

CPD Public Relations Officer Adam Clark said the benefits of the event are two-fold: the families of selected children get to have a little bank account relief during one of the most expensive holidays of the year, and the kids get to have a wholesome and positive interaction with an officer in a low-stakes environment. Clark also said it’s not just the kids who get pumped up for the CPD’s longest-running community outreach; the officers get pretty amped, too. 

“We look forward to the event every year! The officers are just as excited as the kids,” he laughed. Clark shared that while the event is a sweet finish to the year for many officers, it also serves as a reminder of what an officer’s purpose should be: to help the community they’ve sworn to serve. 

“If anyone should ask, ‘Why did you want to be a police officer?’ well, this is it! The chance to really give back to the people in our community, to be a part of a special event like Shop with a Cop. That’s why,” he beamed.  

Clark also mentioned that he feels thankful that the community as a whole supports the event just as much as the officers; after all, CPD doesn’t foot the bill, totaling thousands, by itself. Clark said a dedicated team of recurring donors and sponsors including businesses and individuals are to thank for the continued success of Shop with a Cop. 

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