NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Monday afternoon, North County Police Cooperative Detective Lieutenant Steve Runge showed a reporter boxes and boxes of free stuff police used to get from the St. Louis Rams to pass out to kids in the community. It was a public relations program that worked as well as the Greatest Show on Turf.
Then the Rams left town. And as you can imagine, this merchandise no longer has any "street value" in and around St. Louis. So officers here are turning to another sports franchise, the River City Raiders, a semi-pro indoor football team.
Officers get free stuff, posters, hats and t-shirts, but also tickets. Free tickets, to be give away to kids in the community.
Chief Tim Swope said, "We're kind of a central repository to hand out tickets not only to other police departments, but most importantly to the kids and families in the area. We're also going to be taking kids over to the Family Arena when they have games."
Former KSHE-95 Radio jock Katy Kruze is Raiders Vice-President of Operations.
Kruze said, "Whenever police step out on the streets and they're hand-to-hand and face-to-face with the kiddos out there, we want to promote that. Whatever they can do to help promote the notion that-- these are the good guys. We're on your side."
The free tickets program will help the Raiders put people in the seats at the Family Arena in St. Charles, home field for the team. But Swope said it offers his officers much more than a chance to give away free promotional items.
"Develop those relationships with the community," said Swope. "We see kids out all the time. As the weather starts warming up it's a good opportunity to get out of our cars, and shake hands. And the kids are going to love it."
Indoor football season starts for the Raiders February 27.