Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cop Stop

Communities rely on police officers to protect and serve. In turn, police officers rely on support and cooperation from local citizens to keep everyone safe. In order to help facilitate relationships between police officers and their neighbors, members of Girl Scout Troop 805 have started Cop Stop, a program in which the troop members host neighbors for dinner and invite police officers on duty to stop by for a homemade meal, gifts of gratitude for their service and a chance to interact with citizens in a casual environment.

Members of Troop 805 with Officer King
Kortnie, a fifth grader in Troop 805, explained that they were inspired to start Cop Stop after hearing a story from their troop leader, Heather James.

“Our troop leader told us about a program like Cop Stop that ran in her community when she lived in Oklahoma,” Kortnie said. “After hearing about it, we decided to start the program here. We hope that as people hear about it, it spreads and more people will open their homes to get to know police officers.”

On Wednesday, March 30, troop member Mackenzie and her mother Lori hosted the troop’s second Cop Stop event at their home in Great Bridge. They prepared a meal of pasta, salad and dessert and opened up their home to more than 20 Girl Scouts, neighbors and family members.

Dinner with Officer King
Officer Norwood King pulled up in front of the Clark home around 7 p.m. The girls eagerly greeted him at the front door, where they had decorated the walls with hand-drawn thank yous, balloons and gift bags. They invited him to fill a plate with food, and the troop members joined Officer King around the dining room table. They were excited to learn that his K-9 partner, Rosco, was also on duty and waiting outside in the car. After finishing dinner and a lively conversation with a lot of questions from the girls, everyone headed outside to see Rosco. Officer King held his dog on a tight leash a few feet away from everyone, but the girls were still able to get a group photo with Rosco.

Before Officer King headed out for the night, the girls invited him back inside where they gave him gifts, including a thank you card and a bag of snacks. They also helped Officer King pick out some toys and a snack for Rosco. Never knowing when duty will call, Officer King headed out and promised to share the details for the next Cop Stop with his coworkers.

“We hope that our project helps people in the community get to know police officers better,” Hannah, a member of Troop 805, said.

As it is currently scheduled, Troop 805’s Cop Stop program will run through the end of May. Each event will take place at a different home, so that the girls can reach as many neighborhoods as possible. The troop members hope that their efforts inspire people throughout Hampton Roads to start their own neighborhood Cop Stop programs.

From promoting the event to creating thank you cards, each of the six troop members hosting Cop Stop was responsible for a specific component of the project. For their efforts, the girls are hoping to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.