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Trading cards may help police break the ice



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Town of Geneva police officers are shown here in their new trading cards that were sponsored by Geneva National Community Services, each card has a photo of an officer on one side and a short bio on the other.

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April 04, 2012 | 08:05 AM
GENEVA — Recently, there was a rescue call in the town for what Police Chief Steve Hurley called "a fairly serious medical issue with a young mother."

A town police officer responded to the call, which left the mother's three children to wonder about this person — a stranger — standing in their house.

But the officer found a way to break the ice with these children. In a way, it's why he and 10 other town of Geneva police officers are featured in a new set of trading cards.

"The officer gave these kids his trading cards and it helped because he felt he had something to offer them," Hurley said. "It's not every day you have a police officer, a figure of authority, in your home. Having a trading card like this, giving it to a child, it helps to put that child at ease."

He also said children typically enjoy receiving items from police officers, and a trading card is no exception.

Hurley told another story, about a police officer who stopped a woman and discovered she was driving without a license.

The mother had her son in the car with her, and Hurley said they both were transported to the Police Department office at Town Hall.

Once again, the officer gave the child his trading card. Hurley said this made the son and his mother smile.

"It helped put a positive spin on a negative situation," he said.

Sgt. Ken Mulhollon said he never participated in anything like this before.

"It's humbling," he said. "But the more people get to know who you are, the more you get to know who they are and it makes for a better working relationship."

He said he thought Hurley's idea for the cards "was good PR" and suspected only children would want them.

Mulhollon and Hurley said everyone from the community is interested. Hurley said to collect all 11, people have to approach each officer. "We've had requests for adults in the community for entire sets," he said. "Some of them are trying to collect them by going from officer to officer."

Mulhollon said although they just received the cards, he can see the idea extending beyond town limits.

"Even other law enforcement agencies are asking about them," he said. "I think it's just a novel thing no one's done in this area."

But it has been done before in Racine.

Hurley, who was with the Racine Police Department for 33 years — he retired February 2011 from the position of assistant chief -- said police officers there had trading cards and it was successful.

"Racine has a community-oriented focus and that's the focus I try to bring to the town, so the cop trading cards are an excellent tool to foster community relations," Hurley said.

But there's more to the cards then the pictures.

Sponsored by Geneva National Community Services, each card has a photo of an officer on one side and a short bio on the other.

Below the bio is a saying attributed to that officer.

Hurley's is "Nothing good comes easy — determination and hard work pay off."

"That's a life lesson I've learned," he said.

Mulhollon's saying is "Challenge yourself and follow your dreams."

"You have to challenge yourself to be better and improve others around you," he said.

Mulhollon said he never expected to find himself the subject of a trading card.

He said people usually don't become cops to "be in the spotlight."

Still, he added Hurley's idea was a great one.

"(The cards) make it easier for kids to be able to put a name to the face, so you're not just another police officer they don't know," Mulhollon said.

Hurley said he envisions another run of trading cards in the future, once supplies expire. He said if they create a second run of cards, there will be different photos.

"It's from my past experience and seeing the success of the card program that prompted me to bring it here," Hurley said. "It's fun for both the officer and the recipient of the card."

He said he expects they will pass out a lot of cards at the town of Geneva's next FunFestival.

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