RACINE— The Anthony Lane COP House, 2437 Anthony Lane, transformed from a community policing house to a barber shop on Sunday, Jan. 28, for the Cops N Cuts event.
The Racine Police Department hosts the bi-yearly event in partnership with volunteer barbers/stylists, Andis, and Educators Credit Union.
Officer Travis Brady, of the Racine Police Department’s Community Oriented Policing program, led the event.
The opportunity was made available to students between the ages of five and 17 years old, who were in need of a haircut.
60 children of various ages with a multitude of hair colors, textures, lengths, and styles were present.
Cops N Cuts off-sets financial burdens
Richole McBane, the mother of Jadin McBane, a 17-year-old at Horlick High School, felt grateful for the opportunity available for her child.
“It’s important to have an event like this, where free haircuts are available because a lot of parents can’t afford haircuts for their kids,” said McBane.
“It’s a good way to get the word out that they’re (police officers) doing good stuff for the community.”
McBane explained that her child could have his hair cut every three weeks and it would cost her $25-$35 for each appointment.
The haircuts at the Cops N Cuts event were provided at no cost to families, which is a relief for those who may be financially struggling. The Racine Police Department estimated that they saved families $2,500 in total.
Volunteers give back one haircut at a time
In attendance, volunteering was Santiago ‘Junior’ Coronado from the Hair Depot, Nina Gutierrez of Hair Haberdashery, Vanessa Helbing, and Lindsay Charron of Salon Estrella.
While cutting Liam Gabbey’s hair, Coronado, who is back for his second year of volunteering, said, “I love what I do and I want to give back to my community.”
Coronado’s best friend is a police officer.
“Everyone has their own idea and concept of (police officers),” he said. “But the fact that they do (this event) and open their door” meant a lot to the barber.
Rooted in Racine
Gutierrez, who has been in the cosmetology industry for over 15 years, felt her life came full circle at the event.
Gutierrez is the owner of Hair Haberdashery and grew up on what was formerly known as Jacato Drive after dealing with homelessness as a child.
“I grew up in this town, and I’ve been here my whole life,” she said.
She understood what it felt like to be a child in need, live in poverty, and grow up in difficult circumstances.
“This is my home and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to give back,” said Gutierrez. “Root City is my roots.”
Inspiring the youth
Among those at the event was Joshua Palonis, a 7th-grade student at HOPE Christian School Via.
“They (barbers/stylists) just do it because they like doing it,” said Palonis.
This type of event gave the young teenager a fresh cut, but also inspired him as he recognized the contributions made by his fellow community members.
Palonis feels connected to Racine because of events and opportunities hosted by the Racine Police Department through community-oriented policing.
Not only has he benefited from the Cops N Cuts event, but he’s participated in other weekly programs at another COP House in Racine.
Building trust with the community
Lt. Walter Powell, of the Racine Police Department, explained that as an officer, he’s worked to build trust with the Racine community.
“There’s a long way to trust,” said Lt. Powell.
His involvement in various community policing events has helped strengthen his connection and build trust.
“Everyone sees the police and knows us in a negative context. So if we start with the kids, they see Officer Brady as just a regular human being,” he said.
Through Cops N Cuts, officers have the opportunity to connect with local children in a positive setting.
“He’s engaging with a smile, popcorn and a haircut. He’s engaging these kids and they’ll never forget it,” said Lt. Powell about Officer Brady.
The Racine Police Department will host another Cops N Cuts event in the late summer or fall of 2023. Those interested in attending the next event can find details on the Racine Police Department Facebook page as the date gets closer.
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