Tacoma modifies 3-decade-old tradition of ‘shop with a cop’ meet due to COVID-19 restrictions

For the first time in 30 years, the Tacoma Police Department will change how it does its shop with a cop program due to COVID-19, however the goal of the event is still the same.

In Tacoma this year, children will not be running down the aisles of Target with officers for their annual shop with a cop event. COVID-19 restrictions have made the normal tradition an impossibility.

“Yes, it’s slightly disappointing we won’t be able to shop in the store and let the kids pick out their gifts,” said Detective Elizabeth Schieferdecker.

Schieferdecker took part in her first Tacoma Shop with a Cop about 25 years ago. Now, she is the president for TPD’s Shop with a Cop.

She says while officers and kids will not be able to shop together in person, the tradition will still continue in a different way.

“We’re going to have that one-on-one interaction with the kids, and they need it so badly this year,” she said.

Schieferdecker says the pandemic created a big financial impact on a lot of Tacoma families already struggling.

So, this year officers will keep the tradition going by bringing the toys and clothes directly to the kids.

“The need is so great this year,” said Schieferdecker.

Tacoma Police also faces a unique set of circumstances this year with police relations in the community.

Across the nation, there has been unrest between police and their neighborhoods following the death of Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

In Tacoma, the death of Manuel Ellis, a man who died in police custody, broke around the same time as the country dealt with the unrest and demands for change from police departments.

Schieferdecker says TPD’s focus for shop with a cop has not changed in three decades and will remain the same this year.

“Despite everything that has happened this year, it’s reinforced everything that we have done for the last 29 years, but it has not really changed anything at all,” she said.