EDISON – More than 3,000 toys were distributed to approximately 400 township children for the holiday season through the Cops for Tots first toy drive.
The Community Oriented Policing Unit, which includes Police Sgt. Donald Ship and Police Officers Jennifer Iorio and Shirley Dong, took a “boots on the ground approach” and saw a community need for the toy drive.
The Cops for Tots toy drive was organized by Ship and was run entirely by the Community Oriented Policing Unit out of the Police Administration Bureau. The Police Administration Bureau is made up of police executives Chief Thomas Bryan, Deputy Chief Howard Askelson, along with Captain Brian Maurath and Lt. Andrew Brzozowski.
“The tearful eyes of parents when we arrived at their residence was enough to convince me that we need to do more for Edison,” Ship said. “It brings great joy to the Edison Police Department and the Community Oriented Policing Unit that we were able to distribute thousands of dollars’ worth of items to hundreds of Edison children who would have not had any toys this holiday season.”
The unit documented the initiative on the Edison Police Department’s social media page with photos.
The Community Oriented Policing Unit, formed in September, builds ties and works closely with members of the community, giving citizens more control over their quality of life issues, Bryan has said.
“In essence, our officers will become part of the neighborhood to get a better sense of residents’ needs and help residents develop a greater trust in our officers,” he said.
The formation of the Community Oriented Policing Unit strives to change the fact that some individuals’ first interaction with the police isn’t a positive one.
“When the local police department delivers toys to your family, that is something the children and parents will never forget,” Ship said. “This also creates positive memories of the police for the recipients.”
Although the novel coronavirus pandemic has halted some of the unit’s initiatives, the unit had previously launched a successful Operation Thanksgiving, delivering turkeys and non-perishable food items for residents in need, followed by the successful Cops for Tots toy drive, which kicked off on Nov. 27.
Without the support and generosity of the community leaders, the community as a whole, and local businesses, the initiatives would not have been as successful as they were, Ship said.
The police sergeant, who is currently working to earn his doctorate degree in education, has embarked on research to continue the mission of Cops for Tots and expand the drive from toys to township children in need of assistance with school, clothing, food or other emergency needs.
To continue the efforts of Cops for Tots and partner with the Community Oriented Policing Unit, call 732-248-6462 or email COP@edisonpd.org. New partnerships will allow for the Community Oriented Policing Unit to provide needs for the community on a continuous basis.