by Lisa Tome
Two decades ago, then 8-year-old Dallas Herbert spent at least one of his Christmas mornings with Perry Point police officers Jerry David and Archie Miller. They installed the new basketball hoop he'd received as a gift.
Herbert, now 28, and an officer with Rising Sun police, was raised in a non-traditional home.
"I was raised by my father's sister, Aunt Barb. She was a single mother and raised me and her grandson," said Herbert. "The cops at Perry Point kept an eye on us. Perry Point is where I first encountered law enforcement."
His Aunt, Barbara Deal, worked two jobs, providing for children who weren't her own. "I don't think we ever had a belief in Santa. We went shopping with her. The only surprise we ever had was if we forgot what we bought. I never spent Christmas with my parents until I was a teenager," said Herbert. "If we were needy, I wasn't aware of it."
Fast forward 20 years and Herbert is one of more than 70 police officers participating in Saturday's annual Shop with a Cop. Herbert was assigned his child, Nicholas, 4, who immediately bonds with Herbert. By the time the pair leave North East Fire Company and arrive at Walmart, Herbert is carrying the child on his back. And the child has the officer wrapped around his finger.
"He enjoyed the air horn. We played with the police car and the hats. He shined the flashlight on DFC DiPaola," said Herbert.
Armed with a list indicating the child's clothing sizes and love of Spiderman, the officer puts the child in the cart. "We're getting all kinds of cool stuff today," said Herbert.
They head for the clothes where the officer holds up shirts and pants, measuring them against Nicholas. They then head to shoes and Herbert tries shoes on the child, buying two pairs of sneakers, and snow boots. "You want bedroom shoes?," Herbert selects Minion slippers, and slips them in the cart.
He used the calculator on his phone a few times, adding up the total, initially making certain he does not exceed the $300 per child limit. Eventually he gives up, and stops adding.
Nicholas selects a giant Ninja Turtle, a Frozen game for his sisters, and a wide variety of toys including trucks, cars, and a toy boat, Spiderman action figures and much more. They spend a great deal of time at the Matchbox car display, carefully choosing the "coolest" cars. The officer throws in candy and other treats before they head to check out.
When they reach the register, the total exceeds the limit. He hands over the donated money and puts the rest on his own debit card.
"Make sure you write down that he got two full outfits, socks, underwear. And slippers," said Herbert.
In all, more than 70 officers provided Christmas for 73 children from 38 families at this event.