FORT LEE, NJ – More than 150 Fort Lee students participating in the Cop Cards Collection Program have already visited the borough's police department to meet and greet officers and earn rewards.
Nearly 2,300 youngsters in grades 2-6 are collecting the baseball-card-like portraits in an initiative to establish positive relationships between youngsters and law enforcement.
"I know when I walked through the lobby, I got mauled," joked Fort Lee Police Chief Keith M. Bendul. "I know the program works because they say 'Hi, Chief Bendul' and they know police officers by name."
Each officer carries a pair of bonus cards, handing one out to those who either visit the department or are witnessed doing a good deed in the community. Honor cards represent Officers William Birch and Kevin R. Greener, who were killed on duty, the Fort Lee Police Memorial Square and five dogs from the K9 honor roll.
"It's an added benefit that parents are coming in and supporting us because it is a borough building, and it is about positive community interaction," Bendul said.
He and other members of the department visited schools Oct. 2 to initiate the six-week program. The public-private partnership is run by the department and funded by Randy Ketive's Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.
“Police officers do more than just arrest criminals. They are our friends,” said Randy Ketive as she addressed the crowd at the Oct. 2 assembly at Fort Lee Elementary School No. 4. She shared her appreciation for the officers who responded when her husband and daughter had a car accident years ago.
Students must show their full sets of 92 cards to Officer Anthony Kim by 12 p.m. on Nov. 14 to be entered into a drawing for an iPad.
“It’s important that students not only meet the detectives in our school but other officers in our town,” said Michelle Fornes, a borough resident and teacher whose own children went through the program nearly 10 years ago.
MORE INFO: www.fortleepd.org.
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