The annual Highland County Shop with a Cop event will still go on this year, according to Highland County Sherrif’s Deputy Daman Haught, who also serves as the executive director of Highland County Shop with a Cop and president of the Highland County Peace Officers Association (HCPOA).
“We won’t be able to take the kids out this year because of the dreaded COVID,” Haught said, “but we are making arrangements to contact the schools like we normally do. They will nominate the children for the program this year and then we’ll go from there.”
From there, families will be contacted regarding the needs and wants of both the children and their families. Individual officers, firefighters and EMTs will then shop and wrap the gifts.
In years past, the day of the “Shop with a Cop” event began with the children and their mentors enjoying breakfast at the Old Y Restaurant south of Hillsboro, followed by a ride in the right-seat in a police cruiser, fire truck or emergency response vehicle — lights blazing and sirens blaring — in a motorcade stretching a mile or more, to go shopping at the Hillsboro Walmart.
All that changed when COVID-19 came to town.
“Normally we do the ‘Shop with a Cop’ day during a weekday in the middle of December,” Haught said. “Originally we had planned to go in smaller groups, and we decided that wasn’t going to be possible, so then we thought with the Highland County group, we might be able to go out with maybe a half-dozen at a time and spread it out over a couple of different days.”
Those plans began to deteriorate as the number of coronavirus cases began to increase, so for safety’s sake, they decided to keep the children at home and let the officers do the shopping.
“What we’ll probably do is, a couple of weeks into December, get our officers together who are going to do the shopping, and they’ll go out and get the gifts,” Haught said. “That’ll give us the time we need to get with the families and see what the wants and needs are this year.”
The original date for this year’s event was Wednesday, Dec. 16, and Haught said that may still be the date that officers go out to shop, or depending on the COVID-19 status in the county, it could be delayed.
Haught said there was some disappointment that officers can’t have a day of fun with the kids this year, but they do hope despite all the coronavirus concerns, the group can still bring some smiles to the children’s faces.
“It’s a great experience for both those of us in law enforcement and for the kids,” Haught said. “They got to go out and not only ride in a police car but got to buddy up with an officer or a firefighter or an EMT and spend the day and go shopping with them.”
The Highland County Peace Officers Association is still accepting donations. Those who would like to donate can mail a check to HCPOA, P.O. Box 1856, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
The organization will also accept donations of wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes, and name tags, which can be dropped off at the Hillsboro Police Department or the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.