Each holiday season, I reflect on the past year and give thanks for all life has provided. I also wake up every day humbled and grateful to serve the good people of Lady Lake in the greatest job in the world.
For many, however, the holidays are far from joyous. Sadly, many in our community struggle with day-to-day needs and are unable to put food on their tables – let alone buy gifts for their kids. No child should spend Christmas hungry. No parent should have to explain to their children why they didn’t receive a gift for Christmas.
This holiday season, as in years past, the Lady Lake Police Department is planning to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies and host the “Santa’s Shop With A Cop” event. School-aged children, chosen by their school guidance staff, will be given a special invitation to go shopping with law enforcement officers. The event allows deserving children and police officers a chance to make some fun Christmas shopping memories.
We couldn’t do these community service projects without the support of numerous partners, including the Kiwanis Club of Lady Lake, the American Legion Auxiliary Post 347 and the Orange Blossom Gardens Lions Club. These incredible non-profit organizations support us all year-round with everything from bicycle safety to anti-bullying projects. These programs promote public safety and assistance in Lady Lake, but more than anything, they unite our community as a whole.
While December may be the season of giving, our commitment to the Lady Lake community extends year-round at the Lady Lake Police Department. Partnering with a variety of altruistic businesses and charities, including Target and Home Depot – which defrays the cost to taxpayers – the Lady Lake Police Department hosts or sponsors a multitude of events, ranging from our bicycle safety initiative, a program created to build positive interactions between children and law enforcement, to our Scam Jam Shred-a-Thon to help prevent identity theft.
Why do we do this? As Chief of Police, it is my job to ensure the safety of all Lady Lake residents. I know the best way to protect Lady Lake is not only to catch bad guys who committed a crime, but to prevent crime from occurring in the first place. Helping to relieve the stresses of hopelessness, frustration and despair is part of the solution.
Proactive policies, such as community policing, strike at the heart of the problem before it spirals out of control. Troubled individuals are far more likely to steer clear of crime when their basic needs for food, shelter and treatment are met.
The men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department give their time and devote their lives to ensure the betterment of our community. We’re not just here to protect you from danger and respond to life-threatening emergencies. Our jobs, our mission and our commitment lie in how we can make the lives of all Lady Lake residents better. The Lady Lake Police Department is much more than just a law enforcement agency – we’re part of the community.
To all my friends and neighbors: Have a healthy, happy and safe holiday season.
Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.