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Black and Blue golf tourney planned this month to raise funds for program to help kids in need during holidays

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY PRINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
 - Prineville Police Department and Crook County Sheriff's Office have participated in Deschutes County's Shop with a Cop program for years. They will host a local program for the first time this December.

The Shop with a Cop program is finally going to launch in Crook County this December.

And to help provide it enough financial support and awareness to make it a success, local law enforcement personnel are getting an early start with a summertime golf tournament fundraiser. The First Annual Black and Blue Benefit Golf Tournament will be held Saturday, Aug. 24, at Meadow Lakes Golf Course. The four-person scramble will begin at noon with a shotgun start. Entry fee is $100 per person or $300 per team. The event will include an auction, raffle and tri-tip dinner courtesy of Ron's Comfort Food Café. Tickets for just the auction, raffle and dinner, which starts at 5 p.m., cost $25.

Prineville Police Sgt. James Peterson is familiar with the Shop with a Cop program, having participated in Deschutes County's version of the program for the past several years. He has always appreciated and enjoyed the way the program helps kids and need and felt wanted to start one in Crook County to benefit local families.

"So about two years ago, I looked into starting that program here," he said. "There have been a couple of attempts at getting it going, but it takes so much stakeholder buy-in to get it to work between monetary contributions and volunteer work. It is a giant undertaking." Peterson spoke with Deschutes County law enforcement about what parts of their program work and what potential issues to avoid and ultimately decided to pattern the Crook County program after theirs.

The Prineville Police Department and Crook County Sheriff's Office will work with an advocacy group, the local schools, to help identify and connect with children and families that may be in need of basic supplies and presents to make the holidays better. The schools tell the agencies how many people live in the household and what they might need, and the law enforcement officials take it from there.

"We drive them to shopping (locations)," Peterson said, noting that they will go to Redmond because there is a little more variety there. "That is the time that we build a rapport and get to know the kid a little bit."

The cop will talk to them about their household, what jobs or interests they have, to help decide what gifts would be best for each family member. For example, Peterson said an officer might find out the dad is a construction worker and think they might like a nice cordless drill.

The shopping trip often helps break down barriers between the kids and the cops.

"A lot of these kids have had law enforcement contact, but it hasn't been positive and very often we are met with this stonewall look," Peterson said. "But sometime in the process, they start to realize that you are human."

After talking to the kids about their own children and their interests, the offices learn more about what the kid needs — and what their family members need.

"Very often, you will find that kids want to talk about what the rest of the family wants," Peterson said.

By the end of the shopping trip, the kids have usually opened up and are enjoying hanging out with the cop.

"It's really fun," he remarked.

Although the shopping trips will take place in Redmond, Peterson stresses that all of the money raised either goes to the families in the form of gifts or it will go to community partners who have contributed to the program.

Among those groups is the Central Oregon Patriots, which recently presented the Shop with a Cop program with a $500 check.

"The Central Oregon Patriots supports many local causes. We feel that our local police department's and sheriff's office's involvement in this program that introduces young people to law enforcement in a positive light is worthy of support," said Patriots member Susanne Walters Moore. "We would like to see other organizations and individuals do the same."

In addition, many local businesses have already donated items to be auctioned off at the Black and Blue tournament. Some include Facebook, Les Schwab Tires, Robberson Ford, Prineville Disposal and Septic Pros.

"All of the donations help," Peterson remarked.


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