“I’ll trade you my Walp for two Swarts.” That’s what Apache Junction Police Department officials are hoping local kids will say if the department moves forward with a plan to produce trading cards of police personnel as part of an effort to connect with the city’s younger population.
Cmdr. Jay Swart said the plan has not been finalized but the department is taking a serious look at it.
“The trading cards are an opportunity for the young people in this community to learn about the members of this department in the areas of what their education, training and experience is,” Swart said.
A recent e-mail from Police Chief Glenn Walp indicates that the department is ready to begin taking photos for the cards, and that they most likely would be paid for with forfeiture funds.
Swart said they are simply waiting for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office to approve the expenditure.
Police and firefighter trading cards have become increasingly popular during the past decade, with departments all over the country adding the personalized cards to their arsenals of marketing and promotional materials.
William Smith, co-owner of PoliceBusinessCards.com, said their primary purpose is to make sworn personnel more friendly and approachable in the eyes of local kids. Police generally hand them out at school functions and other community outreach events.
“It’s to ensure that children aren’t afraid to approach an officer,” he said.
Examples of cards on the company’s Web site show officers in uniform standing in front of their patrol cars or seated in department helicopters, on motorcycles or at their desks. Even police dogs get their own cards.
The backs of the cards can be personalized with short biographies of the officers, personal mottoes, departmental history or crime-prevention tips, Smith said. They also can serve an educational function, he added.
Each officer’s card generally costs $60 to $70 for an order of 250, which includes photos and artwork, he said.
Smith’s company recommends leaving space on the back of each card for the officer to sign an autograph, which he said children frequently request after receiving a card.
“When the kids come up and ask for an autograph, it’s actually a rewarding experience for the officer, as well,” he said.
Swart said the Apache Junction police cards also will contain an anti-drug statement from each officer. The hope is that they will be an asset to cops in their community policing efforts, particularly when it comes to working with the city’s youths.
“These cards will give them ability to have a closer connection to the young people in the schools,” Swart said.