Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Portales police officers said it’s a change of pace to be able to knock on someone’s door and deliver good news instead of bad news.
Portales police officers will be delivering good news this week through the seventh annual Operation Santa Cop program. Through the program, police officers will be going out to homes and delivering presents to Portales teens and children. The program has kept growing since its inception when police officers were able to deliver to 50 children. Portales Capt. Lonnie Berry said last year police officers delivered toys to 250 children in Portales. Berry said this year they will deliver to more than 350 children through Operation Santa Cop.
Police officers began delivering presents on Monday and will be delivering presents during the week in time for the Christmas weekend.
“It’s a great program,” Portales Police Department patrol Sgt. Brack Rains said. “We’ve been really successful.”
Rains said it’s nice to bring good news to the homes for a change. He said in one instance Portales police officers served a warrant and six children were caught up in the traumatic circumstances having to watch police officers arrest household members.
“Unfortunately kids get caught in the middle,” Rains said.
“Sometimes parents tell their children they’re going to call law enforcement if they don’t behave. There are too few times when kids see us in a positive light.”
Rains, along with police officer David Meeks made a trip to Olivia Lucero’s house to deliver a See ‘n Say to 10-month-old Cruz Valdez.
“It’s good for the kids that otherwise don’t get presents,” Lucero said. “I think it’s going to be a good Christmas for a lot of kids.”
This year will be the first for Lucero with her son and she said the infant has already had a great experience this holiday season. Lucero said his grandparents spoil him.
Berry said the police officers are able to provide the program with the help of cash and toy donations from other Portales groups. He said the Lions Club members, Dave Hunton Insurance Agency representatives, National Honor Society members, Portales Junior High students and Comcast representatives have helped a great deal with donations.
Berry said the women who work in the PPD business office helped out with organization of the toys. Bicycles, basketballs, footballs, board games, remote-controlled cars, Cabbage Patch Kids, watches and Bratz Dolls were some of the toys in the Portales Police Department ready to go out to the children of Roosevelt County.
Berry said the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department deputies help out with deliveries to places in the county.
Berry said through word of mouth the program has grown and more people have asked about donating to the program each holiday season.
Berry said officers arrive in some homes in which people have poor living conditions and police officers try to help in any other way possible.
“They offer any assistance they can give,” Berry said. “They’ll come back and ask if there’s something we can do to help people in need of food or in need of something else besides presents. Sometimes things are taken for granted. There’s some people who don’t have a tree.”