We're thrilled to announce that Cops and Barbers will be held this year! Started in 2018 by Columbus Division of Police Officer (and Starfish Board Member) Pete Casuccio and barber Rob Cayson, Cops and Barbers served 1,000 children in four areas of the city last year. Boys got fresh haircuts, girls made art projects with female officers, and everyone received school supplies. We were afraid that Covid-19 would prevent us from having it this year, but we worked with CPD and premier sponsor AEP Ohio to bring a scaled-down version that keeps everyone safe while allowing the kids and officers to still come together.
Please read our press release below for details and then treat yourself to some photos of last year's Cops and Barbers journey.
STARFISH ASSIGNMENT, AEP OHIO AND COLUMBUS DIVISION OF POLICE CONTINUE TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY VIA COPS AND BARBERS BACK-TO-SCHOOL EVENT
Scaled back initiative will go on in 2020 with Covid-19 safety precautions in order to help kids find confidence, connect with police
COLUMBUS, Ohio, September 15, 2020 — Starfish Assignment, a Columbus-based non-profit that helps connect law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, announced today that AEP Ohio will continue its sponsorship of its Cops and Barbers event for a second year. The event aims to help youth in the inner city start the school year right by providing them with a positive perspective on police while giving them fresh haircuts and new school supplies.
“Cops and Barbers started as a natural extension of Pete Casuccio and Robert Cayson’s relationship,” explained Nicole Banks, president and founder of Starfish Assignment. “Cayson, a former felon and current barber, and Casuccio, a Columbus police officer bonded over a haircut and shared passion for steering inner-city youth down the right path.”
In 2018, Casuccio and Cayson started the Cops and Barbers initiative serving 20 kids. In 2019, with the added financial support from AEP Ohio’s Energy Efficiency program, the organization expanded to serve over 1,000 children, including a new component for young girls. This year, the team of Starfish, AEP Ohio and CPD worked hard to find a way to help children during an unprecedented pandemic. In a year when events were canceled and children have had to go without many small pleasures, they determined that a smaller event would balance the needs of the children, officers and volunteers while making a difference in the lives of the children.
“When we saw the impact that Cops and Barbers had on the community, we knew we had to continue our support of this effort,” said Tracie Campbell, program manager for AEP Ohio. “Starfish Assignment strives to make a difference for individuals and this version of Cops and Barbers will allow us to make a difference in a safe way.”
The one-day event will take place on Sunday, September 20 in Precinct 7 (East Side) at Beatty Community Center. Twenty-five boys will receive a fresh haircut, while twenty-five girls will have the opportunity to decorate personalized stainless-steel water bottles with female police officers. All participants will also receive a backpack with new school supplies, two books, a wireless mouse, and energy efficiency items. There will also be an on-going “story time” reading of Where the Sidewalk Ends with Columbus police officers that children from the neighborhood can stop by to listen to, as well as static displays from various CPD units. Fifty additional book bags will be given out by officers.
“The best type of crime prevention is connecting with kids when they are young and giving them that spark of confidence,” said Casuccio, who has patrolled South Linden for seven years with the Columbus Division of Police. "A fresh haircut and school supplies might be the motivation they need to stay in school and continue down the right path.”
About Starfish Assignment
Starfish Assignment is a nonprofit organization that works with law enforcement officers to identify people who need a hand up and matches those needs with volunteers who can donate a few minutes or hours of time to make a connection and difference. They ask for everyone to join them as they work to help others while supporting the relationship law enforcement officers have with the community.
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