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Cops and Kids: Law enforcement teams up to help children shop

Kari Lucin / The Sun Starlena Dunn, 5, of Jamestown, center, talks to Cpl. Nick Hardy of the Jamestown Police Department, right, while volunteer Jean Hagel helps wrap a present as part of the Cops and Kids charity program Sunday.1 / 3
Kari Lucin / The Sun A law enforcement official helps a boy shop during the Cops and Kids program Sunday at Walmart.2 / 3
Kari Lucin / The Sun Sgt. Tom Nagel of the Jamestown Police Department, center, assists two young siblings with their Christmas shopping Sunday at Walmart — Tamra Johnson, 8, left, and James Johnson, 11, right.3 / 3

Sirens blared and lights flashed as vehicles from multiple law enforcement agencies drove through Jamestown Sunday afternoon, in hot pursuit of Christmas spirit, happy holidays and, of course, presents.

The parade of police and other law enforcement officials was all part of the Cops and Kids charity program, in which law enforcement officials bring children Christmas shopping.

This year, the kids shopped for presents for themselves and for family members at Walmart, and got help wrapping the presents from volunteers there too.

“It’s busy,” said Sgt. Tom Nagel of the Jamestown Police Department, who is also the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 4. “There’s a lot of energy, a lot of energy to burn up.”

There were also a lot of presents to buy.

This year, 40 children were involved in the program, and their presents were paid for through donation jars, donations given by community members and $1,000 raised by Mrs. Jamestown, Eliza Potratz, said Liz Kapp, a deputy with the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office and secretary of the local FOP.

Law enforcement agencies involved included the JPD and sheriff’s office, as well as the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s reserve. A crew from Jamestown Area Ambulance and volunteers helped wrap the gifts in paper chosen by the children themselves.

“We just enjoy being able to help out any way we can. It’s been great to see everybody, and it looks like the kids are all enjoying themselves,” said Tim Curtis, store manager at Walmart.

James Johnson, 11, of Jamestown, said he was choosing gifts for himself, but ended up selecting presents perfect for family fun.

“I think a lot of them were very, very excited,” Nagel said. “They just talk and talk and talk.”

Dustin Stabnow of Jamestown, 5, went shopping with his brother, Dakota Martinson, 6, and Terrill Wolf, a sheriff’s reserve deputy.

“It’s a well-worthy cause,” Wolf said. “I just have fun doing it.”

Stabnow had selected a wrestling mask for himself, among other things.

Children are chosen to participate in Cops and Kids when law enforcement officials see families who are in difficult situations, or if they need help, Kapp said. Sometimes they get referrals from schools or social services agencies.

“It’s a good chance to have a positive interaction with the kids,” said Trooper Adam Gebhardt of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, who has been involved with the program for a couple of years.

This year, Gebhardt helped out Preston Dockter, 8, who chose a Spongebob Christmas DVD, a Yu-gi-oh trading card game and some gum for himself.

Typically, kids who haven’t been in the program before are higher on the priority list than children who have been, and names are checked off against lists of participants in similar charity efforts.

And the children who are involved do remember their time with law enforcement officials, Nagel said.

Kaili Dockter, 4, may have had a particularly memorable Christmas shopping experience — she was the first child to ride in the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office’s armored personnel carrier.

“She crawled right up in there,” said Sheriff Chad Kaiser. “She wanted a ride.”

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453                    or by email at