Police use lemonade stands to ‘get out of the cruiser’
By Hadley Barndollar, fosters.com
Original article HERE
A police cruiser arriving at a curbside lemonade stand with lights on typically wouldn’t signal a positive outcome. But this summer, when kids spot the officers, there’s nothing but smiles.
Local police departments are using the quintessential, youthful summer experience of lemonade stands to step out of the cruiser, get to know neighborhoods and increase community policing. In Brentwood and Exeter, police use Facebook to communicate with parents and families, who can invite officers to their children’s stands by sending a message to the department’s page. If the kids are lucky, they’ll get their photo with the visiting officers posted online.
Brentwood Sgt. H.D. Wood said officers previously visited residents’ yard sales around town, where much of the time, children would set up lemonade stands alongside the sale. Wood compared the initiative to the police trading cards kids in town would collect, having to interact with each officer in order to receive a prize.
“The parents or the kids can go onto our Facebook page and let us know they are having a lemonade stand or yard sale, and the duty officer will stop by and visit and say hello,” Wood said. “It kind of took off. We’ve visited three in the last week-and-a-half alone.”
Wood said the Brentwood police Facebook page gets messaged “at least every other day now” with a new invitation.
“The kids are getting creative and making these really fun, festive lemonade stands for us to stop at,” he said. For example, one group of kids on July 1 planned to donate all proceeds to End 68 Hours of Hunger in honor of late SAU 16 Superintendent Michael Morgan. Others advertise money will go to their college fund and some hold canned food drives alongside the stand.
“They’re coming up with really creative ways to make money,” Wood said. “It’s been well-perceived by the townspeople. It’s a good way to get us out of the cruiser and down to their level, speak to them and shake hands.”
Wood said a police cruiser brings attention to the roadside stands. At one, a line formed shortly after he arrived. “Our community supports us so we want to support them,” he said. “It’s important we get out and are visible, especially with the younger generations.”
In Exeter, Police Chief Bill Shupe said he got the idea from a law enforcement magazine and proposed it to his officers. “I thought it was a great idea, very simple,” he said.
Shortly after school ended, Shupe had his administrative assistant post an advertisement on the department’s Facebook and he challenged his officers to get to as many lemonade stands as they could. “It’s taken off,” he said. “The officers have really enjoyed it. We’re meeting a lot of kids we otherwise might not have met, including parents.”
Shupe began holding Coffee with a Cop events once he became permanent chief in 2016. Mirroring that community policing concept, the lemonade stands encourage interaction.
“You never know what kind of conversation is going to stir up or what’s going to come of it,” he said. “That kid you met at a lemonade stand a year ago might need your help and feel safe talking to you because he met you once. I don’t think anything but good can come out of it.”
Parents are encouraged to contact the police departments through their Facebook pages. The visits are expected to continue throughout the summer.
“There’s all kinds of reasons to get out the car, but why not have some lemonade on a warm day?” Shupe said.