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Lathrop Police officers give gifts to kids
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Lathrop Police Lt. Ryan Biederman – who is serving as the Active Chief while Chief James Hood is away from duty – poses for a picture with Santa Claus Wednesday night at Lathrop Police Service’s “Cocoa with the Chief” event at the Lathrop Generations Center. - photo by Photo Contributed

When Charlene Lee heard that Lathrop Police Services was welcoming the community down at the Lathrop Generations Center on Wednesday night for cocoa and cookies, the new Lathrop resident thought that it would be a good chance to learn more about her local law enforcement.

So she brought her kids down to let them meet the men and women in uniform that help protect their new home. 

But the kids had no idea that they’d be meeting Santa Claus. 

“We didn’t know that they were going to have Santa Claus here, let alone be passing out presents to the kids,” said Lee – smiling while her daughter April played with the horse figurine that she received. “It’s great to have an event where you get to meet your local law enforcement officers, and the fact that there’s something for the kids makes it even better. 

“We just moved to Lathrop, and so far we love it – it’s events like this that we really love about living here.”

According to acting Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biederman – the department’s lieutenant that is at the helm while Chief James Hood is away – seeing so many children in attendance is exactly what his department was going for when they planned to hand out toys to the young children who came with their parents. 

Showing young people, he said, that police officers are friendly and are there to help him was one of the motivating factors behind the holiday treat and remains a critical component of the community-oriented policing model that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office uses in executing the contract for police services for the City of Lathrop. 

“It’s just a different atmosphere than when we have to respond to a call for service,” Biederman said. “Here people can come up to us and talk to us and see that we’re just regular people like everybody else, and if our paths happen to cross then we’ve had that experience already. 

“And with the new L.E.A.D. program we have had a number of kids who recognized the deputies that came to their school and were excited to come up and say hello to them. This is about getting to know the community we serve, and events like this make that possible.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.