Dozens of police departments across the Garden State are printing and distributing police trading cards to kids.

“ A youngster can get a card by approaching an officer on the beat, or coming into police headquarters, and when meeting with the officers they have to introduce themselves, they have to say where they go to school, what grade they’re in, and if they have any interest or questions about law enforcement,” said Lt. Jonathan Greenberg of the Florence Police Department.

If a child collects all 25 police cards that are available, they get a $5 gift card.

“We wanted to do this to open up communication with kids, to make sure kids aren’t afraid to approach police officers if they have questions or see things on the news," Greenberg said.

Christopher Leusner, the Middle Township Police Chief and vice president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, said “these police cards are a great ice breaker to open the line of communication between kids and police officers.”

“Youngsters can perceive the police as being intimidating, so having a trading card is a way to break the ice.”

Leusner added the cards also provide an opportunity to display safety messages, like reminding them to wear their helmet when they’re riding their bicycle.

"We want kids, when they’re having an issue or problem, to feel comfortable to go to a police officer, and hopefully we’re going to be able to solve that problem for them.”

According to Greenberg, kids have been approaching officers all over town as they collect their cards.

“One young man who came in today, he’s getting pretty close, he’s got about 14 cards and that’s the most I’ve seen so far,” he said.

The front of the card has a picture of the officer and on the back there’s biographical information about the cop, so kids will realize “we have interests, whether it’s fishing, or in my case, I like tinkering with vehicles, I do a little automotive on the side.”

“We don’t want them to be nervous or afraid, we want them to feel like they can come to the officer, come forward and be able to speak to the police officers so they know we’ll take them seriously and we’ll listen to what they have to say.”

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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