Police Find Another Way to ‘Serve’ CommunityJun 16, 2016 08:37AM ● By Bryan Scott
The West Valley City Police Department helped raise $3,782.44 during the Cops for Kids event. All proceeds go to the Children’s Justice Center. – West Valley City
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
As Child Abuse Awareness month came to a close in April, West Valley City police officers served the awareness in a manner they weren’t used to.
On April 21, 10 police officers in West Valley City convened at the Sizzler restaurant on Redwood Road to serve food as waiters from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. All tips received during the four-hour event were donated to the Children’s Justice Center (CJC).
Sergeant Steve Katz of the West Valley City Police Department was supervising and serving during the event. He said the CJC is indispensable in what they do and any time helping them is a great opportunity.
“To be able to support them in that type of a fundraiser and also being able to positively interact with the community is a very refreshing experience, very rewarding,” Katz said.
Started in 2004 at the Sizzler in West Jordan, the combined effort was performed at seven different Sizzlers from Provo to Salt Lake City. About $22,000 was raised with all participating locations. The West Valley City servers earned $3,782.44.
The money will be used to support child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy professionals all working together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse and hold offenders accountable as well as the partnership with law enforcement.
“It’s great knowing that money is going to a great cause and also the community coming out to support us in the cause for Cops for Kids fundraiser is fantastic,” Detective Jaron Averett said. “I think we should do it more often.”
Susanne Mitchell of the CJC said the officers act as ambassadors for the program and are instrumental in this fund raiser.
“The true magic is the officers who volunteer their time and serve meals to the public to show how much they care from their hearts that children are protected in our community,” Mitchell said. “And that we all know that the Children’s Justice Center is a great place to receive help.”
The Children’s Justice Center is a nonprofit charity established in 1993 to benefit child victims of crime.
Two of the CJC’s purposes are to educate the community about the services they offer so child abuse victims can receive proper assistance. The other is to do what the Cops for Kids fundraiser did: raise funds.
“We rely on donations from the community…[through those donations] we’ve been able to solve some real dire circumstances for people who come forward and reveal abuse because it might not be safe for them to go home,” Mitchell said.
Averett helped coordinate the event by seeking out officers in the department to volunteer, gathering donations and getting as many flyers as possible out into the public.
Averett, involved in the fundraiser for the past three years, said it’s always good to have bonding events like this with the community.
“The program, Cops for Kids, is great in the relationship building between us and our community,” Averett said.
Katz said it was great to see the support of the community for the cause and the police.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without their support…it’s good to get the proper perspective out there again and see the good in the world since we see so much of the bad,” Katz said.
Besides just serving the patrons, the police also held a raffle where people could by tickets for a chance to win model police cars with working lights and West Valley Police stickers on them.
“The cars were pretty nice, I think they were valued at about $150 each,” Katz said
The event also gave officers a chance to show off serving skills of a different kind.
“My serving skills need some work,” Katz said. “I’m pretty sure Sizzler’s not gonna hire any of us anytime soon.”
Katz said his respect increased even more for what servers are able to do at restaurants with how much they have to keep track of.
“You don’t have an appreciation for how difficult that job is until you try to do it,” Katz said.