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Cops Care youth camp hopes to reshape image of law enforcement

St. Joseph police officers are the camp's organizers and counselors.

Posted: Jul 12, 2021 10:57 PM
Updated: Jul 13, 2021 10:28 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- St. Joseph police are doing their part to help young people see law enforcement personnel in a different light.

All this week, they are hosting the St. Joseph Cops Care Youth Camp. Their goal is to help participants see them as people behind their badges.

"It's non-uniform, it's non-enforcement. It's not in the school. We're just getting to know the kids on a first-name basis," said SJPD Sgt. Roy Hoskins, who acts as the department's camp director. "They learn we're humans and we learn what they're all about and have just a great time. It builds a bond that we see results from for years and years."

Throughout the week, there are a lot of fun and games, including basketball, kickball and other sports, but police make sure to add in some safety education as well. 

"Bicycle safety, gun safety, we have the Bearcat, we have an ambulance, a firetruck and the smoke trailer from the fire department," Hoskins said, listing off some of the other activities kids participate in during the weeklong camp.

At a time in our country when more and more people have become less and less confident in those who are there to protect and serve us, camp organizers say they're there to build relationships and rebuild confidence in them.

"It's all about trust," Hoskins said. "We want them to see us as friends and trust us and get to know us a little better, that we have families and we just want to play and have a good time and get to know the kids a lot better."

For the kids who come to the camp, it looks like it's working.

"I like the cops, they're nice," said Jaxson, one of the camp participants.

The camp is open to kids ages 9-12 and continues through the end of the week.

The program is at near-capacity for the summer, but Hoskins said a couple more kids might be able to be squeezed in.

Call the St. Joseph Police Department's non-emergency number at (816) 271-4777 for more information.

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Temperatures are on the cool side this morning with lows in the 30s. A few areas of patchy frost will be possible in extreme NW Missouri this morning. Sunshine and mild temperatures will take over this afternoon with highs in the mid 60s. Saturday will start off dry and sunny with temperatures warming back into the mid 60s. Late Saturday into Sunday shower and thunderstorm chances return. A few thunderstorms could be on the strong to severe side. Several fronts will move through the area next week giving us roller coaster temperatures. Next week looks to start off dry but rain chances will return by mid week.
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