You've Got A Friend
You've Got A Friend

Daily Progress Newspaper, Charlottesville, Va.

Event designed to strengthen relationship between officers,public

Since he was in pre-school, Ryan Lawson has dreamt of being a policeman, having the power of the badge to help people, and being in the center of the action. Now at age 8, he is sure that’s what he wants. Almost.
“I want to do police stuff,” explained Ryan, showing his blue stained tongue and “junior officer” sticker from the Lynchburg Police Department.

I’ve been wanting to do it, but I don’t know if I want to get killed or jump through windows or get stitches,” the soon-to-be third grader at Agnor Hurt Elementary School said.

Ryan’s mother, Sheryl Lawson, said she’s brought her children to the community day for the past several years. It’s important, she said, for kids to see that police are not their enemies.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate safety,” Lawson said, pointing as an example to the anti-drug message. “The boys can do hands-on things and talk to the police and understand that they are there to help.”

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo, said that attitude is just the kind the event hopes to promote and reinforce.

“We’re building relationships,” Longo said. “Often the only time people see us is in a tragic time or in a time of great need or when they’ve crossed the line and broken the law.”

“It’s really cool because you get to see everything and how it works, ” Ryan’s brother, 10-year-old Adam Lawson said.

Excerpt from the Daily Progress Newspaper in Charlottesville, VA.

Police show their friendly side (8th Annual YGAF Day)

“I just think it’s good for kids to be around them, because some kids are afraid of the police,” said Kim Blair, a 33-year-old cashier from Charlottesville who brought her daughter and niece to be fingerprinted.

I want (my son) to learn that the police are good and not bad,” said Theresa Williams, a 32-year-old receptionist and Charlottesville resident.

“It’s kind of like a fair,” said Colleen Alexander, 34. “It’s nice to see police officers in a different light- more social.

Excerpt from the Daily Progress Newspaper in Charlottesville, VA

Reaching Out ( 7th Annual YGAF Day)

Perched on parents’ hips and shoulders, shading their eyes, children silently gawked open mouthed as the University of Virginia’s emergency medical helicopter, Pegasus, circled and touched down on the field in front of them.

Rescue crews then rushed the pretend victim of a pretend accident- whom they had just “rescued” minutes earlier using the Jaws of Life- to the waiting helicopter.

Applause and cheers greeted the lifesavers.

“We heard this was a police safety fair, but we had no idea that it would include all this really good stuff,” Hollymead parent Patty Berkin said of the seventh annual “You’ve Got a Friend Day.”

“We’ve been really impressed,” Berkin said.

“They see the uniform and the shiny objects and, yeah, they are probably intimidated,” Albemarle County Police Officer Christopher Diaz said. “What’s important is to let them know that we’re real people like their mom and dad.”

Keitta Griffin, a fifth grader at Cale Elementary School in Albemarle County, seemed to agree. After a minute of reflection, Keitta decided her favorite part of “You’ve Got a Friend Day” had been meeting the “policeman”. “I really liked seeing what they were like in real life<” she said. “And I like how they taught us how they use their dogs.”

Excerpts from the Daily Progress Newspaper in Charlottesville, VA

Cops, Kids Arrested by Fun (6th Annual YGAF Day)

Charlottesville Police Officer echoed McLane, We’re trying to accomplish a working relationship between the public and police officers, he said, adding the event was particularly geared toward children. “There’s nothing to be frightened of , because of the uniforms,” he said. We’re there to help them, to get children to know we are friends.”

The shave-a-thon was among the highlights at You’ve Got a Friend Day at Charlottesville High School, sponsored by the You’ve Got a Friend Foundation to build bridges between police departments and the communities they serve.

Crop a Cop was organized by local Officer’s to raise money for children with cancer. The officers had their heads shaved as a symbolic gesture of support for the kids. By day’s end, $1,300.00 was raised for the JenniferFund, named for 14-year-old cancer survivor Jennifer Marshall of Blacksburg.

Excerpts from the Observer Newspaper in Charlottesville, VA

You’ve Got a Friend” (9th Annual YGAF Day)

After a spin on the barrel train, 9 year old (almost 10 she reminds)Clerra Hester tries out UVA’s Officer William Barnett’s police bike at the 9th annual “You’ve Got a Friend” Day held Saturday at Charlottesville High School. The annual event promotes trust, respect and understanding while focusing on the importance of creating and maintaining positive open relationships between citizens and Law enforcement officials.

Excerpts from Eye on Charlottesville, Monthly Publication

1st Set of Police Trading Cards (Charlottesville Police Department)

Detective Cordie Page says the Trading Cards have been good for morale. “The kids see us as heroes; not just a person who shows up when there is a problem. One of the most positive results of the program is evident in the reaction of the officers when kids come up and ask for their autograph.”

Officer Steve Grissom stated that because of the trading cards, kids now know him by name: “They recognize me from the cards and come running up. It’s a great icebreaker. The cards are also a good distraction for children when we have to make house calls related to domestic disputes.”

Note from Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Dear Barry, Just a note to congratulate you and your committee on the tremendous job you did in organizing and executing the 1st Annual You’ve Got a Friend Day. I heard many favorable comments and it was very obvious the young people and adults were excited and appreciative of your efforts.

As we all realize there is a definite need for verbal and physical communication with our youngsters and the “You’ve Got a Friend” event certainly accomplished both of these objectives.

Thank you so much for including MADD. We look forward to future opportunities in working with you.

Jean Abbott


From Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Central Virginia

!! Because of you and your committee’s commitment and hard work, Charlottesville has been afforded a memorable event in which to rally the community. The participants created an atmosphere where children, especially, were excited learning about police officers and the work they do. Again, congratulations!

Cliff M. Goodwin

Pepsi-Cola Bottling of Central Virginia

Excerpt from the Charlottesville Daily Progress Newspaper

4th Annual “You’ve Got a Friend” Day

“It seems every year more and more law enforcement agencies want to participate,” said Charlottesville Police Detective Paul Davis, who is Treasurer of the Charlottesville Police Officers Association. “It seems as if law enforcement agencies want to come and show off their toys,” Davis said.

Letter From Harvey’s; Awards, Rubber Stamps and Signs

2nd Annual You’ve Got a Friend Day

Dear Barry,

What a great turnout there was for the You’ve Got a friend Day – truly a success story. Harvey and I enjoyed talking to all the police department employees and those who took the time to travel and participate from other Virginia localities. I am fortunate to know what wonderful police department employees Charlottesville has since I used to work for the City of Charlottesville. I was able to get to know many officers and was informed of the many community programs offered to citizens in our community.

Thank you for making this event “happen”.

Bea Segal
Operations Manager

Your Right to Day Article from the Daily Progress

“All Participants of Friend Day Praised”

Friendship, where does it start? Isn’t it with that first “hello,” growing with familiarity and shared experience? The bond is forged in respect and trust, interactive conversation – the exchange of ideas and ideals. Values and behaviors are contagious – caught by exposure.

And what better friend could a kid have than a cop – who better to emulate than law enforcement?

Applause to the fine participants of “You’ve Got a Friend Day” Aug. 22: community leaders, project managers, proprietors, “McGruff,” firefighters, rescue squads and law enforcement personnel from near and far.

Thank you for reaching out to our children and families, providing a center of stability to counter the effects of the ever shifting society in which we live.

It was good.

Diane R. Nigh
Albemarle County

Let’s work together

The development of our youth, who ARE the future of our country, rests upon certain essential building blocks such as family values, trust, teamwork, education, leadership and communication. These building blocks exist when a safe and productive environment is provided. However, juvenile crime and substance abuse caused by declining family and moral values and fueled by the lack of community involvement has led to its decay.