Officers with the Mapleton spent the summer connecting with kids in the community, with the added help from an anonymous donation.

At the beginning of the summer, officers began visiting kids' sidewalk businesses -- lemonade, snow cone and sweet treat stands -- in an effort to reach out to the children in the community. It gave them an opportunity to interact with kids in the community in a fun way. 

"It's Mapleton, its a smaller community, so we have the ability to stop and visit with the kids," said Police Chief John Jackson. 

Jackson said that his officers enjoyed finding the stands and getting to know youth throughout the community in a new way and enjoyed "hamming it up" with the youth and building trust with them at the same time.

Midway through the summer, though, a couple in the community who wished to remain anonymous donated 40 Little Caesars gift cards to help officers to connect even more with the youth in the community.

Jackson said he split the gift cards among his officers and told them to decide how to use them in the community.

Since then, Jackson said the officers have really run with it, showing up around town, everywhere from lemonade stands and bake sales, to the Youth City Council's teen movie night with pizzas. 

"It has been hugely important to me and to the officers to get to know the kids in this way," Jackson said. "We teach some classes in the schools, so many of the kids already know some of the officers, but this gives them a chance to see them in a new way."

Jackson said that the community has noticed the efforts of the officers, and they even get requests from parents for officers to show up at their kids' sidewalk businesses.

Many of the officers' visits have also been featured throughout the summer on the department's Facebook page, and the department has been encouraged by the reaction of the community there. 

-- By Stacy Johnson, Daily Herald 

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