Latest Idea in Making Poor Kids Like Cops: Bribe Them With Toys

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In a lot of ways, the "Shop With A Cop" program practiced by the King County Sheriff's Office, Covington Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service and dozens of other law enforcement agencies nationwide is a nice program for a good cause. But it's hard to get past the fact that buying a toy for a kid who inherently distrusts and/or doesn't like you is the oldest trick in the bad parenting handbook.

The program puts donated money to use by giving disadvantaged kids a $50 gift certificate that they can spend on toys, but only if they let a nice, friendly cop pick it off the shelves for them. It's a magnet for local press, as Saturday's event at the Covington Walmart was covered by nearly every news outlet in the area.

As KOMO News reports on Saturday: "many of the kids who took part have a poor history with police officers, perhaps from the experience of having a family member who's been arrested."

So, if you're a poor or "at-risk" kid and participate in Shop With A Cop, the idea is that you'll leave with the notion that police officers don't only arrest daddy and big brother and send them to jail, they also occasionally take you to Walmart and buy you a Transformer.

A nice gesture, but one that might be better achieved if, say, the cops spent some time getting to know the kids or doing some activity with them other than equating themselves to a rich uncle.

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