Current and Former Loy Norrix Police Officers Give Back to the Community they Serve for the Holidays

Riley Dominianni, Feature Editor

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Officer Devon Palmer takes a break from shopping with a young girl to pose for a picture. They spend lots of time in the toy aisle choosing the perfect gifts to wrap and take home for Christmas. Photo Credit, Riley Dominianni

Christmastime revolves around children. Ask any parent, the magic, excitement and gifts that accompany the holiday is really all for the kids. But for many children in low-income households, the holidays are full of uncertainty and stress as they wonder if there will be presents for them on Christmas Day.
Luckily, there are people who strive to change this sad reality. Although they already do tremendous service to Kalamazoo, former Loy Norrix Police Officer Devon Palmer and Loy Norrix’s newest officer Catrice Lockett took it upon themselves to spread holiday cheer to those who need it most.
On Wednesday, December 12, Palmer, Lockett, and dozens of other local heroes from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety successfully brought holiday cheer to children in Kalamazoo at Target on West Main.
They did so as part of an annual event called “Shop with a Hero.” Kids were given $100 vouchers to Target and spent hours shopping with their very own mentor from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. Whether they spent their allowance on gifts for themselves or for others, their smiles were genuine and everlasting throughout the evening.  
“These young people have so much to deal with now-a-days,” Officer Lockett said. “It’s rewarding to be a part of this positive interaction with them during this season. Often times the financial burden becomes yet another contributor to their problems because they don’t have the means or resources to either give to others or receive themselves. It’s nice to see the joy and sense of accomplishment the kids have during and after the shopping is complete.”
One of the more outstanding things Officer Lockett witnessed was the bond formed between the children and police officers as they shopped.  
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Officer Catrice Lockett smiles with two local children. They each have two gifts picked out so far, and plenty more to go. Photo Credit, Riley Dominianni

The Urban Institute, a foundation for Social and Economic Policy Research, conducted a study in February of 2017 on low-income areas’ general attitude towards law enforcement. Residents in the six cities chosen for the survey were asked if they thought police officers respected people’s rights, made fair and impartial decisions, explained their decisions and actions in an understandable way and tried to do what was best for the people. The percentages of those who thought police officers did these things ranged from 26%-34.3%. Only a small fraction of these communities viewed the police in a positive light.
This is part of the reason “Shop with a Hero” exists: to change this perception.
“It allows them to see the person, the heartbeat behind the badge. That we are a caring and compassionate group of people who want to invest in our community and its youth,” Lockett said of the importance of the annual event.
A few aisles down from Lockett, Officer Devon Palmer, another familiar face to many Loy Norrix students, could be found guiding another child around the store as she enthusiastically filled her cart. She had picked out special gifts for her family and friends, and even offered to buy something for her new friend Officer Palmer. With a smile on his face, Officer Palmer said he very much enjoyed his role in the event.
At the end of the night, kids, cops, and the staff at Target worked together to wrap each gift so that not one child went home unprepared for the holiday season. As a result of the success of “Shop with a Hero” 2018, Officer Lockett calls upon others in the community to give back and “consider giving the gift of time.”