Ex-cop helps 50 officers outfit needy kids for school

The fourth “Shop with a Cop” in East Portland event was led by Portland’s best known ex-officer, and Woodstock resident, Mayor Tom Potter. See what happens when he is joined by 50 cops from all over town ‚Ķ

Students Jose Carades and Alvaro Sanchez are assigned to Portland’s best known ex-cop, Mayor Tom Potter.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A week before school started, the parking lot of the Johnson Creek Boulevard Fred Meyer store, on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, was swarming with police officers early one morning. But this massive police presence wasn’t there to foil a criminal caper.

“We’re in our fourth year of the ‘Shop with a Cop’ program,” the event coordinator, Senior Night Sgt. Larry Graham, explained to us. “In addition to helping kids from outer southeast Portland, we’re helping kids from all over the city.”

At the “Shop with a Cop” event, Officer Nancy Poggi gets briefed by Sgt. Larry Graham.

Graham said this event epitomizes community policing in action. “The kids get the chance to bond with a police officer and see them in a positive environment. Many of the officers are here on their own time.” After working his graveyard shift, Graham again volunteered to help at the event.

The sponsoring organizations chipped in the funds to put $157 on each of the 100 gift cards used at the event. And, to make the money go farther, the Johnson Creek Blvd. Fred Meyer store reduced prices on back-to-school clothing and supplies for the event.

Officer Jim Gaither participated in the “Shop with a Cop” program. Here, he’s helping student Jacob Boyle. “I like being with young people and giving them a positive role model.”

Mayor Tom Potter, an ex-cop himself, participated in this year’s event. “I’ve heard about this great event, and wanted to participate this year,” he said. “I’m just here to help out and lend support. Our police officers are the real stars of this event.”

The Portland Police Bureau, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland, the ROSE CDC and Fred Meyer have helped nearly 400 young people get ready for school with this unique program.

Do they intend to do it next year? “You bet,” assured Graham.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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