EAST LIVERPOOL - Calls being made to area residents concerning a program for children do not represent the annual Cops and Kids campaign sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29, according to city police Chief John Lane.
A resident reported this week being called by a man promoting "Cops for Kids," which he called the "No. 1 charity in Ohio," saying the program funds programs in Columbiana County, including Shop with a Cop and Bucks for Boots.
In her conversation with the telemarketer, the resident was advised that the Cops for Kids is a non-profit agency "highly regulated" by the Internal Revenue Service.
When advised by the resident that she donates locally to the East Liverpool Police Department's Cops and Kids program, the man said when money is given toward that program, it can be used for weapons, equipment or other police department needs.
"They can use those donations for anything. They don't have to answer to anyone. They don't have any accounting," he told the resident, adding, "I'm sure they do give some money to Shop with a Cop (the former name of Cops and Kids), but there's just no accounting for it. I found that out through experience."
When approached Wednesday about the man's comments, Lane said, "That is absolute nonsense. I have every receipt and can account for every penny. All money raised is spent on the kids and the program."
The Cops and Kids program provides money every year for officers and other supporters to take underprivileged children shopping at a local store for Christmas gifts, new coats and boots they might otherwise not receive.
Lane said the caller is in no way connected to his department's Cops and Kids program, saying, "We don't make calls. We don't pay companies to solicit for us."
Lane said letters are mailed each year to solicit donations, and an article is placed in local newspapers to let people know donations are being accepted.
He said donations are not solicited outside the city except for a few letters sent to those outside the city who have donated in the past.
Letters should be mailed in a week or two to begin the annual solicitation, he added. Those letters contain the official Fraternal Order of Police letterhead with FOP officers' names and offices listed, signed by Lane.
Anyone interested in donating can sent checks or money orders to FOP #29 Cops and Kids Program, P.O. Box 233, East Liverpool, Ohio, 43920.