A nationwide program aimed at teaching children respect for law enforcement has been turned over to the Utah Council for Crime Prevention by the charity arm of Sears, Roebuck & Co.
The private, non-profit council will not spend state funds to promote the "Officer Friendly" program outside Utah, according to executive director Tibby Milne.The Utah council is paid less than $100,000 annually by the state Department of Public Safety to run a number of crime prevention programs, including the McGruff campaign that encourages citizens to "take a bite out of crime."
Milne said funding for any out-of-state activities for the "Officer Friendly" program, which has been used in Utah schools for 12 years, will be sought from private sources.
The "Officer Friendly" program was originated by the Sears Roebuck Foundation 25 years ago. The foundation had given $1 million to the program during the past three years alone.
Now that the program is being used successfully nationwide, Sears, Roebuck & Co. district manager Denny Morse said it was time that the participants took it over.
"It's hard to justify continuing to give it the same support when the community and government sector could and should support the program," Morse said.
The Sears foundation has given the Utah council enough materials to continue the program nationally for two years as well as the "Officer Friendly" copyright, logo and trademark.
Morse said the Sears foundation decided to transfer the program to the Utah council because it set an example for other states. Utah's "Officer Friendly" program is currently the only one operating statewide in the nation.
According to information supplied by the Utah council, 167,000 Utah children have participated in the program.
during the school year.