WPD officers hand out presents during annual Santa Cop event

WPD officers shop with kids in Walmart.
WPD officers shop with kids in Walmart.(WECT)
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington police officers are making sure every child has a gift to open on Christmas morning.

The Wilmington Police Department held their annual Santa Cop event on Friday morning at the Walmart in Monkee Junction. Each child was paired with an officer, carrying a one hundred dollar gift card. This event was made possible by people like Sgt. Joe Smith, who donated part of paycheck to the program.

“The kids are able to see us in a different light, they’re not a victim, they’re not with a possible suspect or anything else. We’re just out here having a good time with kids and hanging out,” said Sgt. Smith.

Seven-year-old Lyla Prigen took part in this years event, but her favorite part about the holidays isn’t the presents.

“Because that’s the time you get to spend with family and friends,” said Prigen.

Even though the children’s smiles were a big benefit of the event, officers say there are long-term benefits with programs like this.

“It gives folks the opportunity to see us as human, which is what we are. We’re human beings, we’re citizens of this area just as much as anybody else and it’s a job we choose to do,” said Sgt. Smith.

Kids who participated in the Santa Cop event are referred by their schools, or by an officer responding to a call of service. WPD’s second Santa Cop event will be on Monday, December 20th, at the Walmart on Sigmond Road beginning at 9 a.m.

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