The Cleveland Heights Police Department's Community Response Team delivered holiday food baskets to 18 needy Cleveland Heights Families on Dec. 23 in a new community outreach program called Police Navidad.
The purpose of the program was to spread cheer and goodwill as part of the CHPD's mission to serve citizens through diverse community policing. The baskets contained all the fixings for a turkey dinner, plus some additional food items. It was organized by Officer Andrew Watkins, according to Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson.
The Community Response Team worked with two non-profit organizations to identify struggling families that would receive the baskets. Start Right Church, 977 Caledonia Ave., selected 10 of the recipients; Us Together, 2490 Lee Blvd., an organization that resettles political refugees and displaced persons to start new lives in America, identified eight families who recently came here from Nepal, Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The program was funded with cash seized during drug enforcement activities here. Such money, once cleared through the legal system, becomes the property of the police department and – because the amount varies widely from year to year – is used for discretionary department activities. The food was purchased from Dave's Market, which organized and assembled the contents.
In the future, the department hopes to expand the program to invite donations from the community and police force, and provide for a larger number of families. Different organizations will be tapped each year to identify recipients.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.