By J. L. Shively
The Florham Park Police officers are out in force and, for this month, they are looking forward to more than just their regular call of duty.
Since mid-June Florham Park officers have been out meeting with the community and handing out their fourth series of trading cards.
The police trading cards is a concept brought to the Florham Park Police Department by former Chief of Police Kim Chapman. “Chief Chapman was known for his strong belief in the concept of community policing,” says Sergeant Glen Johnstone of the Community Policing Bureau.
This is the first time in three years that a new series of trading cards has been released, making this the fourth series since its genesis in 2007. The idea for the new release of these trading cards was “planned shortly after Chief Treiber took office in September 2015. He is also a proponent of the philosophy of community policing and was anxious to get a new series of cards out,” says Johnstone.
The FFPD trading cards are a photo card just like any other trading card children will be familiar with today. These cards include the name of the officer as well as their photo and title within the department.
According to a press release, since the last distribution of the trading cards, the department has “had several retirements, promotions and additions,” so the cards will reflect these changes and be an exciting new collection for young residents.
The new series of cards will also include all of the specialized units such as the “Honor Guard, Emergency Response Team, Motorcycle Unit, Bike Unit, Traffic Safety Unit and DARE Unit,” according to the press release.
Most Florham Park students will already be familiar with the DARE and School Resource Officers such as Officer Charlie Greenstein and Johnstone himself, who are DARE Officers at the schools, but the trading card collecting is about becoming familiar with all police officials.
“The contest is just a small part of the program,” says Johnstone. “We want the youth in town to get to know all of our officers, not just the DARE and School Resource Officers that are in their schools. The contest is to get them excited about getting and trading the cards. In the process of getting cards they get to meet our officers and realize they are real people like everyone else.”
This program is made possible by the partnership with local businessman Sergio Bordenabe of High Five Pics. Bordenabe is a photographer who has offered his services to help create and print the trading cards.
“He has been a fantastic asset and has worked above and beyond our expectations to make the program a success,” says Johnstone.
With 45 cards to collect, Florham Park youths certainly have their work cut out for them and are encouraged to approach officers at safe moments to ask for cards and even to trade with their friends.
Awards will be given to the first three school-aged children to collect the 45 card set. The awards for this collection will be given out at the Aug. 2 National Night Out.
The National Night Out is “a community-police awareness-raising event in the U.S., held the first Tues. of Aug.,” says Johnstone. At this event the public will be invited to meet with their local police officers in a social setting allowing the community to gain a better awareness about the police officer’s jobs as well as view their vehicles and equipment.
“Each year we feature a helicopter landing, Fatal Vision DWI Simulation Goggles, McGruff the Crime Dog as well as free food and face painting,” saying Johnstone.
The whole concept of the trading cards sums up the object of the National Night Out, to raise community awareness and create a positive rapport with the officers and the community members they serve.
“It is important for everyone to realize that our officers are people just like them,” says Johnstone. “Sometimes that is lost when dealing with officers in uniform. This program will hopefully increase interaction and take away apprehensiveness that people sometimes have towards uniformed police officers.”
The FPPD officers are just as excited as the children are to be involved in such a program, each officer right up to the chief has been busy handing out their cards.
“The officers really enjoy getting to meet people,” says Johnstone. “A lot of times we meet people in difficult or unfortunate circumstance. This provides an opportunity for the officers to interact with the community without the stress of being on a call.”
An important reminder to all card collectors is to keep in mind they should not approach an officer in the roadway, on a traffic stop or when they are handling a call. The best way to collect the cards is to simply wave the officer over and the officer will come over if they are able. Another last reminder from the officers at the FPPD is to have fun and be safe!