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CPD hosts ‘Carve with a Cop’ event on West Side

At Saturday’s “Carve with a Cop” event, children 3 through 13 years old were invited to decorate and carve pumpkins with local police officers.

At “Carve with a Cop,” held Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, children 3 through 13 years old were invited to decorate and carve pumpkins with local police officers.
At Saturday’s “Carve with a Cop” event, children 3 through 13 years old were invited to decorate and carve pumpkins with local police officers.
Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

With the leaves starting to fall and temperatures taking a dip, spooky season is in full effect in Chicago, and a pop-up pumpkin patch, organized by the Chicago Police Department, was helping West Side residents get into the Halloween spirit.

About 200 children picked up perfectly plump pumpkins just in time for Halloween next weekend at the “Carve with a Cop” event, hosted by CPD’s 15th District in a parking lot across the street from its station, at 5701 W. Madison St.

With spooky music playing in the background, cheerful kids — several in costumes — decorated their Walmart-donated pumpkins in various ways. Some opted to paint their gourds while others carved faces with the help of officers or other adults.

Margaret Jones, a mother of six, brought her 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son to the event not only for them to decorate pumpkins but also to show support for the officers.

“This is what we do — any type of family activity that we could have, I try to share it with [my children], any type of community thing, I try to share with them,” Jones said.

Jones’ youngest child, Alexander, said he was having “a lot of fun” as he painted blue hair on his jack-o-lantern.

“You’re quite the artist,” CPD Sgt. Rhianna Hubbard told Alexander.

Hubbard said planning the fall event was a “team effort.” They started handing out flyers in schools weeks ago and shared details of the event on social media.

Officer Michele Molina, who also helped organize the event, said the goal was to provide a fun and safe environment for children, especially since younger people are affected by rising crime in the community.

“A lot of children have been hurt with shootings and high crime, violent crimes, and kids can’t play outside anymore,” Molina said.

Hubbard also said the district made a point of inviting children as young as 3 to start developing a relationship with them.

“We need to start earlier at younger ages with the kids and letting them know that we are partners in the community, versus opposition,” Hubbard said.

Events like this are important to help officers “gain that trust back with the community and the children,” Molina said.

“We want them to feel like they can trust us,” Molina said. “We want [to] let them know we’re here, as safety, as friends, assistance — anything they need.”