Jessica Mathews /

A local university hosted a special breakfast event for Livingston County children and law enforcement officers following a morning of Christmas shopping.

The annual Shop with a Cop program, sponsored by Livingston County law enforcement agencies, provided an opportunity for disadvantaged kids to connect with police officers through a day filled with shopping, a meal and activities at Cleary University in Genoa Township. It was also a time for the kids to begin gaining a better understanding of the role of law enforcement officers in their community.

Cleary hosted 64 local children and 50 law enforcement professionals for breakfast, a holiday movie and a special appearance from the Cleary mascot, Clancy the Cougar, on Saturday, December 3rd.

Shop with a Cop is a charitable program that aims to help relieve some of the holiday stress for families in need, gives kids positive experiences with law enforcement, and begins building trust between families from at-risk homes and police officers.

Children are selected by referrals from various social service agencies throughout the county.

This year, children were given $200 to spend at the Genoa Township Walmart. A police officer served as a chaperone and companion for each child during the day’s adventure. The kids arrived via a grand entrance, riding in a parade of police cruisers with lights flashing and sirens blaring down Grand River to the store.

Law enforcement agencies participating in this year’s Shop with a Cop festivities included the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office; the Michigan State Police Brighton Post; the cities of Howell, Brighton and Flint; Hamburg, Green Oak and Unadilla townships; and the Village of Pinckney.

University President Alan Drimmer said Cleary was proud to participate in such a valued program for the community. He said “This is our first year supporting Shop with a Cop, and we plan to continue this annual tradition that benefits so many kids right here in Livingston County. This is such a great opportunity for youth in our county to connect with local police officers, see the positive side of law enforcement and have some fun. Cleary is a strong advocate for our public safety community who do so much to serve and protect all of us. To further support these valued individuals, Cleary developed very affordable degree programs for police officers and public safety civilians and their families, allowing them to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from Cleary in as little as 12 months. We award their life and work experience through credits toward a degree”.