HAMLET — Stephanie Holder spent Wednesday afternoon packing bags with school supplies for an upcoming back-to-school event.
Holder, a senior at Richmond Early College High School, is interning with the Hamlet Police Department and filled the bags with folders, pens and pencils and other items.
The supplies will be passed out by officers Saturday in the Buttercup area as the department hosts its Back to School Cookout.
“They’re going to have glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, paper, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, deodorant, floss … pretty much everything (they’re going to need,” said Chief Tommy McMasters, adding that the supply list was obtained from the school system. “It’s tailored toward middle school and below, more so than high school.”
Sponsors include: Walmart; Food Lion (Hamlet); Outreach for Jesus; the dentist office of Dr. William Cleveland; Last Chance Deliverance Church; Justyncredible Snacks; First Presbatyerian Church of Hamlet; King’s Gate Church; Whimpy’s Refrigeration Heating and Air Conditioning; Flowers Food Company; and BB&T (Hamlet).
The chief also acknowledged the out-of-pocket donation from David Quick, saying he gave more than some of the businesses.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — but the officers’ day won’t be over until about midnight.
McMasters said the department will be kicking off its Saturation Patrol and Observation Team.
“We’re going to saturate the city with police officers,” he said. “It won’t just be us. It’ll be us and our neighboring agencies.”
Those agencies include the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the Laurinburg Police Department.
“We want to make sure Saturday night’s a safe night … before the start of the school year,” he said, adding there will be strict enforcement with patrols throughout all the neighborhoods and checkpoints popping up.
Then, starting Monday, officers will be following school buses looking for violations — such as passing a stopped bus — and patrolling the city’s schools, in addition to the district’s Special Police force, twice a week.
“It’s going to be zero tolerance,” he said. “If you get stopped, it’s going to be a citation, at the very least.”
There will also be an officer reading to students once a week, McMasters added.
One of the areas that he said will be heavily patrolled will is close to Monroe Avenue Elementary School (Spring Street, Washington Avenue), which has been riddled with crime in recent years.
“There’s kids over there … so we want to make sure they’re safe,” he said.