According to the US Department of Justice, “Strong relationships of mutual trust between police agencies and the communities they serve are critical to maintaining public safety and effective policing. Police officials rely on the cooperation of community members to provide information about crime in their neighborhoods, and to work with the police to devise solutions to crime and disorder problems. Similarly, community members’ willingness to trust the police depends on whether they believe that police actions reflect community values and incorporate the principles of procedural justice and legitimacy.”
The Auburn Police Department utilizes community policing to form positive partnerships within the community. The Auburn Police Officers Association (APOA) was established in the early 1980s to help support the building and furtherance of these healthy relationships. “Sometimes this is providing for a family in need or sponsoring a sports team. Other times it is participating in community events that support other area non-profits or hosting our own event. [During the holidays], we also provide meals for our officers working [on] holidays,” shared APOA Board member Joe Ryan.
Who Is The Auburn Police Officers Association?
Members of the APOA are made up of the Auburn Police Department. There are approximately 110 members, with a four-member board. Department members elect to join the association and provide small monthly contributions. The amount collected from APOA members “primarily goes to things to support the officers including beverages and creature comforts in our breakroom and gifts when an officer suffers a loss or welcomes a new one into the world. This frees up nearly all of [the] money that we gain through fundraising for our work in the community,” said Ryan.
In recent years the members of the APOA have taken a more active role within the Auburn community. The APOA has two annual events, the Chili Cook-Off at the Farmers Market and Shop with a Cop.
Each year the APOA and members of the VRFA compete in a Chili Cook-Off. Shoppers at the Auburn International Farmers Market determine the winner. The Chili Cook-Off raises money for the Auburn Food Bank. It also provides the winning agency with bragging rights. The Auburn Police are the current reigning champions!
2019 Shop With A Cop
This year’s Shop with a Cop event happened in mid-December at the Walmart in Auburn. Algona Police Department and Washington State Patrol (WSP) also participated in the event. Participating officers do not have to be APOA members. In the past Pacific PD, Kent PD and even VRFA members have joined. Support staff members assist by wrapping gifts as do APD Explorers.
Forty-six kids from within the Auburn School District participated in this year’s event. Teachers and staff members nominate selected children. The APOA also accepts a few nominations for participants via Facebook, depending on how much money is raised for the event.
The Shop with a Cop event is made possible by generous contributions from the community. Donations from yearly Auburn’s Walmart, the WSP, and Kelly’s Auto Supply help keep this event going. This year, because BECU donated money toward the event, the APOA was able to take on additional children. These donations ensured each child received a gift card to purchase whatever they wanted. Many of the kids selected gifts for their family members before choosing anything for themselves.
The kids and cops enjoyed cookies and juice, provided by the APOA, after their whirlwind shopping adventures. Gift wrapping was available by volunteers. The pairs could also use provided wrapping paper to wrap their gifts.
Though police and rowdy children overran their breakroom, not a single Walmart employee appeared put out. It was clear this event was a joyful moment for the Walmart employees, during what is notoriously a stressful time in retail.
In addition to these annual events, APOA members support the community throughout the year through community events. The APOA represents the Auburn Police Department at events such as National Night Out, Auburn Days, and the Veterans Day Parade.
Working Within The Community
The APOA also partners with other community organizations, and the Auburn School District, to help provide individual assistance to families in need. “We have helped purchase bikes that our bike officers have given to children, Halloween costumes delivered by our SWAT team, gifts and food for families with children in long term care, and a host of Christmas gifts delivered to families in need,” shared Ryan.
“Last Christmas we were able to provide for a large family that lost a member of their family just before Christmas,” Ryan continued. “One of our detectives headed this up and bought gifts both essential and fun for the entire family. Some of these were delivered to the family in the hospital and others were left under their tree at home.”
This year the APOA provided holiday Christmas gifts for children and families at Gildo Rey, Terminal Park, and Pioneer Elementary Schools. These donations from the APOA are made possible by contributions from the community, including businesses such as Athens Pizza & Pasta.
APOA’s Support Of The Special Olympics
Each year APD participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics. According to its website, the LETR has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs since its inception in 1981. “Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into Opening Ceremonies of local competitions,” explains the LETR website. “The flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.”
The APOA has supported the APD’s participation in the LETR by sponsoring runners for the events. “Each year, the APD has a group of runners who run the torch through the city after picking it up from Kent and passing it off in Sumner,” said APOA Board member Stephanie Bennett.
At this year’s Special Olympic Games in Seattle, “APD [had] a representative who ran the final leg of the torch run to the opening ceremonies and also had a representative who awarded medals to some of the athletes,” shared Bennett.
Though not a specific APOA event, APD participates in the annual Tip-A-Cop event, usually at the Outlet Collection Red Robin. Officers assist restaurant waitstaff in serving customers. “Tipped” money goes to the Special Olympics. APD Explorers also participate, helping with clearing tables and refilling drinks.
Supporting The APOA
Several of APD’s citizen volunteers also volunteer their time with the APOA. “One, in particular, [who] stands out [is] Beth Hollis. [She] has volunteered her time to the APOA on numerous occasions and we appreciate her,” shared Ryan.
Follow the APOA Facebook page for updates, events in the community and possible volunteer opportunities.
“We are so thankful to the Auburn business community and community as a whole. Many businesses have donated to us this year. It is tough to single any one of them out, but we received a very generous donation from Athens Pizza and Pasta that [allowed] us to take on several Auburn families in need and give them a Christmas!” said Ryan.
You can support the APOA by connecting your Fred Meyers Community Rewards to them. Every time you make a purchase, the APOA will receive a donation. The Community Rewards program is like Amazon Smile and does not impact your bill. The money comes from Fred Meyers. Just go to “Fred Meyers Community Rewards” and search for “Auburn Police Officers Association.”
Send monetary contributions to: 340 E Main St, Ste 201 Auburn, Washington 98002. Make Checks out to Auburn Police Officers Association.