FREEPORT, TX (KTRK) --Sometimes the small things have a big impact, and that's proved to be the case with trading cards in Freeport.
The city's police officers began circulating cards with their pictures on one side, and inspirational quotes on the other. The "cards are distributed to kids.
The trading card idea was the result of riots after a string of police shootings across the country. Freeport would seem far removed from that, but the department's chief and Captain Raymond Garivey wanted to influence young minds.
"We want them to call us, walk up to the police station for a hug or to say hi, and get a trading card," Garivey said. "We want them to know there are no barriers between us and the youth, and we're there to help them."
Today at Velasco Elementary, a half dozen uninformed officers walked through the halls. One student looked with big eyes as they passed, and said, 'it's the police.' When they walked into a first grade classroom, students went from attentive to excited as soon as the trading cards were passed out. Sticker badges and candy sealed the deal.
"Do you like Captain America?" Sgt Jared Eversole asked a six year old boy. The first grader nodded. Eversole said, "look at my Swat uniform. I have a Captain America patch on it." The boy broke out in a big smile.
Thousands of cards have been distributed. Garviey said boy and girl scouts come to the station and ask for full sets. Parents have even started asking for them.
"It shows us that we're there for the community. Our job isn't just about car chases and arrests. It's about caring for and protecting the people who live here," he said.
In time, this interaction is expected to bear fruit. The kids collecting cards today will grow up to see the positive role that police officers serve.
For his part, Garivey hopes that he won't hear parents telling their misbehaving son or daughter, "see that officer over there. I'm going to turn you over to him if you don't act right.' That's not the kind of impression we want children to have. Bring the child over for a trading card instead."