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[whitespace] Sunnyvale cops participate in 'Tip-a-Cop" program

Public Safety helps wait tables in an effort to raise money for Special Olympics

Sunnyvale--Members of the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department worked a few extra hours before their shifts for a good cause. On the evening of May 3, between 4 and 8 p.m., they gathered at Spoons Bar and Grill and worked the tables.

"All the officers here are volunteers; they don't have to be here," said Tiffany Lloyd Lofton, coordinator for the Special Olympics, which public safety frequently partners with for charity work.

Lofton explained Special Olympics is the largest philanthropy that law enforcement contributes to. The Sunnyvale Public Safety Department has participated in various activities in the past to benefit the program, such as the torch run and the plane pull. Last year, however, was the first year the department participated in the Annual Tip-a-Cop fundraiser. According to Lofton, the fundraiser has operated for many years in cities throughout the country. Chief Ernie Bakin said Sunnyvale Public Safety got involved last year through Mary Dale, a neighborhood resource officer.

According to Lofton, Tip-a-Cop involves officers dressing in their different uniforms and walking with servers, bus boys and hosts, in an effort to inform customers about the Special Olympics. The officer tells the customers why they are there and gives the customer a brief description of the philanthropy. They then leave a donation envelops on the table and tell the customers that any money, in addition to the tip they leave, will go towards Special Olympics.

"Sunnyvale's always been community-oriented," Officer Dave Faletta added. "Most people who live here know that. We put on all kinds of programs as neighborhood resource officers. We just want to be around. Things like this help promote the fact that we're here for something good. That is the atmosphere we nurture."

According to Lofton, last year Tip-a-Cop raised $25,000 in 15 restaurants, and with 18 restaurants participating this year, they hope to raise even more. "Last year we raised, I believe, about $1,200 in this one night," Officer Ralph Chavez said.

Officer Tim Macierz explained there is a group of six officers from public safety that holds the title of neighborhood resource officers who do ongoing work with Sunnyvale schools, as well as different areas of the community to teach public safety.

"Although there is a specific group that does that kind of work, we are all neighborhood resource officers," Macierz said, adding, "[Tip-a-Cop] is one that we work jointly with the department on."

"It's been a success," Bakin said. "City people have come tonight also from other departments, so that was nice."

The Law Enforcement Torch for Special Olympics will be going through Sunnyvale on May 31. The torch run is a statewide fundraiser to raise the awareness of Special Olympics. The torch will be passed by officers from Santa Clara, to Sunnyvale and then to Mountain View.
Gretchen Knaup

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