orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

June 19, 2014

Merritt: ‘Cops N Kids is well worth it’

VIDOR — An Orange County tradition for two decades returns this week.

Sheriff Keith Merritt and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office will hold the 20th Annual Cops-N-Kids Picnic from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Friday, June 20 at Claiborne West Park in Vidor for area children.

The purpose of the event is familiarize children with law enforcement in a non-threatening environment and show the kids that police, and other first responders, are their friends in times of need.

“Our main focus is to spend time with the kids,” said Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt. “We are there to help them, and we want them to know they can call on us when needed.”

The annual event provides several fun-filled events and activities as personnel from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, along with representatives from local police agencies in Orange, West Orange, Bridge City, Pinehurst, Vidor, Rose City and Orange County Constables will be in attendance. Personnel representing emergency medical responders and fire departments will be on hand as well to meet with children and answer questions.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of logistics are involved, especially when you have as many as 1,000 kids there,” Merritt explained. “You want to leave no stone unturned. When you see what those kids get out of it, you just feel its worth it.”

Activities such as facepainting and bounce houses are part of the fun, but children are also able to see and experience the vehicles first-hand. A highlight each year is when children get the opportunity to ride in a police cruiser around the back of the park with sirens on.

“The helicopters are always popular with the children, and the petting zoo is probably the most popular attraction we have out there,” Merritt added. “But we try to add something new every couple of years, and this year Gator Country will be involved with some of their animals for children to see.”

Weeks of planning are being finalized and last minute details attended to before the Cops N Kids Picnic on Friday, but Merritt believes the traditional event is one of the best opportunities law enforcement and emergency personnel can have with the community and area children.

“Its part of our service to the community, and it’s well worth it,” he said. “We may be wringing wet with sweat when it is all said and done, but we love it just as much as the kids do.”

 

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