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‘Cops, Pops & Community’ Event Returns July 9 to Wheeling Heritage Port

photo by: Shelley Hanson

A few of the organizers of the upcoming Cops, Pops & Community event share a laugh together following a press conference at Wheeling Heritage Port on Wednesday. From left are Lori Jones, executive director of Wheeling YWCA; Wheeling YWCA Marketing and Development Director Liz Handzus; Wheeling YWCA Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Ron Scott; Wheeling Police Department Chief Shawn Schwertfeger; Ziegenfelder Event Coordinator Jamie Wilson; and Ziegenfelder spo

Organizers gathered Wednesday at the port to announce the event that will take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It will feature free food and fun with members of the Wheeling Police Department hosting games for children and their families.

The “pops” part of the event features Budget Saver Twin Pops provided by the Ziegenfelder Co. Other sponsors and organizers include the Wheeling YWCA, the Barry & Lisa Allen Foundation and Belmont Savings Bank.

Lori Jones, executive director of the Wheeling YWCA, said the first Cops & Pops was organized following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020 and the resulting social unrest.

Jones said Barry Allen, who then owned Ziegenfelder Co., reached out to the YWCA, saying he wanted the community to be more inclusive.

The event is aimed at strengthening ties between the community and the police in Wheeling.

“It’s geared toward children and their parents,” Jones said. “It’s come one, come all. They have foot races with the police officers and there will be bouncy houses.”

The goal is to help families, especially children, learn not to be afraid of people in law enforcement.

“We’re fortunate in our area. We don’t have a lot of the unrest and things that are happening in other areas because the chief is so approachable – and gets it,” Jones said, referring to Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.

“I think letting the people of the community know you don’t have to be afraid to even talk to him or any of the police officers is so important.”

Schwertfeger said the first Cops & Pops was “awesome.”

“We had a nice turnout and the weather was great,” he said. “It instilled a lot of pride in me and we had a lot of interest from officers in the department and they had a great time.

“Just watching them build those relationships with the community is what it’s all about. It’s a really cool event.”

Schwertfeger believes the event did what it was intended to do. He said any time you can bring the community and the police together for an event it is a good thing.

Because of the event the officers likely will be able to put a name to a face of a young person playing outside in the future.

“Officers are always pushed to community police, but it’s not always possible. If you are tied to a radio or running from call to call, you don’t necessarily have those times during daylight hours to get out and walk in the neighborhoods,” Schwertfeger said.

“So this is an added benefit and an opportunity. We will build relationships on this day … It’s very important.”

Allen, chairman of the Barry & Lisa Allen Foundation, sold Ziegenfelder Co. and was able to start his new foundation, which will give grants to a different organization or cause each year. This year the foundation is helping a program at the YWCA that provides scholarship money.

In addition to Jones, Allen and Schwertfeger, other officials in attendance Wednesday included Wheeling Police Department Lt. Josh Sanders, Wheeling YWCA Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Ron Scott, Wheeling YWCA Marketing and Development Director Liz Handzus, Belmont Savings Bank of Bellaire and Powhatan Branch Manager Courtney Smith, Ziegenfelder Director of Sales and Marketing Brad Allen and his 4-year-old son Knox, Ziegenfelder Event Coordinator Jamie Wilson and Ziegenfelder spokeswoman Chrissy Mucheck.

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