Cops & Kids Carnival

Cops & Kids Carnival

The annual Cops & Kids Carnival is coming back to Beaumont on Aug. 26. Drawing in thousands each year, the fun and free fair features games, rides, food and other attractions while offering youth and law enforcement officers an opportunity to get to know one another in a safe, festive environment.

Last year, more than 4,300 folks flocked to the carnival, and program planners project between 3,000 and 5,000 attendees at this year’s event. Cindy Bloodsworth Jeanis is the special projects coordinator at the Beaumont Police Department and coordinates the annual carnival. She said many factors play into the success of the endeavor.

“First and foremost is the engagement and support of our community,” Jeanis said, adding that donations from local businesses pay for the entire carnival. “This year, we are fortunate to have over 30 businesses step forward to underwrite this and other Cops & Kids programs. In addition to financial underwriters, we also have 50 or so various organizations and businesses who set up booths at the event. The carnival is a true representation of the positive things that can result from a community working together.”

As of June 20, Chief-level sponsors for this year’s event include ExxonMobil, YMBL, Capital One Bank and Regina Rogers. Captain-level sponsors are Penland Foundation, Valero and Kinsel Toyota. The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 33, Collision and Classics, Beaumont Community Credit Union, St. Elizabeth hospital, Cotton Cargo, Modica Brothers, Parigi Property Management, Post Oak Bank and Conn’s Home Plus all donated at the “Sergeant” level. “Friends” MobilOil FCU, Boudain Hut North, Joe J. Fisher, Texas Coffee Company and M & D Supply also helped fund the event. Classic Chevrolet and others are supplying water for thirsty fairgoers.

Cops & Kids Beaumont is a proactive initiative that promotes personal safety, crime prevention, leadership, ethics and civic duty for area youth. According to Jeanis, the shared purpose of the carnival and the Cops and Kids program is another contributing factor in the fair’s popularity.

“This carnival is more than just a lot of fun for kids and families,” said Jeanis. “At its core, the BPD Cops & Kids Carnival is a personal safety and crime prevention event. Nestled within the fun and merriment are important messages for children and adults alike.”

Jeanis explained that officers and volunteers share safety information about guns, the Internet, dangerous cell phone apps, tobacco avoidance, substance/alcohol abuse, good touch/bad touch and bullying. Several booths also provide information about health and wellness services available for children and their parents, as well as some basic health screenings and giveaways.

BPD Officer Carol Riley said the carnival is the perfect venue for youth to meet and get to know local law enforcement officers.

“There are a lot of kids who are terrified of us,” Riley related. “Sometimes, their only exposure to us has been because we’re there for a tragedy, or because they have been in a car crash, or a violent criminal incident has occurred, or they’ve had a family member die and we’ve responded to it. The Cops & Kids Carnival is a place where children are exposed to officers in an everyday, peaceful environment. They can get to know us when there is not a tragedy or a criminal occurrence.

“That’s the whole goal – to be proactive, to work with children and get them in a positive environment around law enforcement and just let them know we’re here to help. We are working to get those kids in high-risk areas to come out and enjoy themselves and relax and know they are safe when they come to our programs and our events. We want them to feel special and to know that they don’t have to be afraid of law enforcement. We want to make sure that they see us in an everyday atmosphere and realize that we’re people too. We’re here to help them. We’re their partners in the community. We don’t want to be a big, bad boogie man to them. We want to be someone they feel comfortable with so they can come to us.”

And it’s working, Riley asserts.

“It is absolutely effective,” she said, as are the many other Cops and Kids programs designed to reach children and improve community relations with police and the public. “We also do things like ‘Coffee with a Cop.’ We do reading programs in the school. We do bicycle rodeos, and so much more with youth in the community. It’s really amazing.”

Jeanis said Beaumont Police Chief James Singletary and the department are committed to assuring that “all children in our community understand that a police officer is a friend and protector.”

“The opportunity for police officers to engage one-on-one with children and their parents in a fun and safe environment provides the department a mechanism for conveying this important message,” she said of the upcoming carnival.

Chief Singletary agreed that the event is an excellent way to connect youth with officers, and stressed the value of communication between police and community.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for the police department to reach out to our area youth,” said the chief.

The Cops & Kids Carnival will be held Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Beaumont Civic Center, 701 Main St. in downtown Beaumont. Attendance is free, and so are the drinks, snacks, games, rides and other entertainment. Sgt. Al Johnson and Liz the bloodhound will also be on-hand at the event, so stop by and say hi.