Starting in January, the Bangor and University of Maine police departments restarted a program called Kids ’n’ Kops to send anti-bullying and anti-drug messages to kids in the Greater Bangor area.
The Kids ’n’ Kops program, started around 20 years ago, was restarted this year in hopes to repeat the success it had in the past.
The initial run of the program lasted from 1986 to 1988 and was attributed to former UMaine men’s basketball coach and alumnus Skip Chappelle. It involved many surrounding law enforcement agencies and trading cards from UMaine athletes that went on to have professional careers.
This session of Kids ’n’ Kops features a series of 13 trading cards that use UMaine athletes. The front is a picture of an athlete, and on the back is a simple message against drug use and bullying.
The latest card, which features Black Bear’s softball player Janelle Bouchard, reads “it isn’t big to make others feel small.”
“Our hope is that the kids will get a chance to speak to an officer,” Robert Welch of University of Maine Police Department (UMPD) said. “It’s the interaction with the officers, the prizes and the messages with the athlete’s support.”
When kids collect five cards, they receive a free t-shirt and two tickets to a UMaine basketball game. If they collect all 13 cards, they are entered into a giveaway from UMaine branded gear.
The program ends for UMPD at the end of the hockey season. Welch said that this program is successful, because it gives children positive images of officers, rather than just people in blue uniforms.
“Even if one kid spoke to one officer, the program is a success,“ Welch said.
Welch also said that the program will be revamped for the next session.