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‘We are here to serve the community’: Chenango County Shop with a Sheriff returns

Sgt. Dustin Smietana of the Chenango Co. Sheriff's Department walks with a boy from Greene...
Sgt. Dustin Smietana of the Chenango Co. Sheriff's Department walks with a boy from Greene during the 'Shop with a Sheriff' event in Norwich, N.Y.(WBNG 12 News)
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:13 AM EST
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NORWICH, N.Y (WBNG) -- On Saturday there was a heavy police presence at the Norwich Walmart, but it wasn’t for anything crime-related. Instead, 32 officers and children selected from schools across Chenango County were able to participate in ‘Shop with a Sheriff.’

It’s an effort through the Chenango County Sheriff’s Department to help engage with the community, and help provide gifts to those in need for the holiday season. Sgt. Dustin Smietana who has been on the force for a number of years says, “Day in and day out we’re always doing law-enforcement and to be able to help the community that we serve it’s a really good thing for us.”

The program began back in 2016 and gained the popularity and support of many local businesses and individuals over the years. Through ‘Shop with a Sheriff’ the selected children are taken on a shopping spree with $200 each to spend.

One of the kids selected for the program this year was Aaron Bates of Norwich. Bates came through the special reserved check-out line for the program with a wide smile. He says he got some new materials for his video gaming system. “I got a call of duty and $100 GTA (money for in-game use) and a $50 Roblox (money for in-game use)”.

Smietana says he loves to take part in the event but says the outcome of community engagement such as this runs much deeper than just buying toys.

“A lot of times we are in people’s lives at the worst moments and it’s an opportunity we’re not really operating in a law-enforcement capacity we are here serving the community we represent this community day in and day out.”

Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. says he was happy with the turnout this year, and thanks the community for helping to make it possible. He says they also could not do the event without the support from the Norwich Walmart. “Walmart’s been exceptional they’ve been our partner since the first day we did it in 2016. They said aside time, they work with us and they give us a separate aisle so we can streamline this whole process and that’s phenomenal they’ve been an amazing partner.”

Cutting Jr. says they accept donations throughout the year to help support this effort. If interested, he recommends donating to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Department and write it to ‘Shop with a Sheriff’.