There has been a longstanding joke about cops hanging out at donut shops, and later this week, the public will be able to see it for themselves.
It isn’t a hidden camera expose at all, but some local cops are going to be poking fun at themselves Friday and Saturday, and the public is invited to pile on, so to speak.
And while they hope that everyone has a lot of fun with it, they are doing it to combat a very serious type of crime, one that often affects the community’s most vulnerable neighbors.
The Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County helps victims of some of the area's most heinous crimes, including domestic or family violence, sexual abuse and stalking.
“I think they're all kind of devastating and I think relationship violence is always dramatic when there are children involved and when there's child molesting going on in the home," said Sareen Dale, Director at the Family Justice Center. "I think those kinds of cases really tug at your heartstrings and keep you up at night.”
Located at Colfax and St. Louis in South Bend, the FJC is a non-profit that provides many services under one roof.
“Our most popular service is assistance with protective orders. We've got a partnership with the st. Joseph County courts. They have a protective order clerk here on site that helps us," said Dale. "The way we've helped someone file for a protective order--the clerk files it with the judges and that really, really speeds up the process and keeps people able to be in one spot so they can also work on a safety plan.”
It is a welcoming and safe environment for victims, who can get professional counseling at no cost, as well as legal services to help with divorces and custody issues.
“That's one of the barriers for getting out of an abusive relationship,” said Dale.
The FJC also houses the special victims unit which includes detectives from the county's three major police departments.
“We have been an on-site partner with the special victims unit for five years and they're the real unsung heroes; they are an inspiration to me,” said Dale.
And they, along with fellow police officers they have recruited, hope to inspire folks throughout Michiana to come to Krispy Krème Doughnuts on Main Street in Mishawaka, on Friday October 5, and Saturday, October 6, for the Cops on the Top of the Donut Shop fundraiser.
“The officers are going to be sitting on top of the roof, and some, hopefully, will be on the ground, too and they'll be collecting money," said Dale. "They're going to lower a bucket and see what kind of donations they can get.”
“Everybody knows what Krispy Kreme does,” said Mark Breden, Manager of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. “But a lot of people probably don't know what the Family Justice Center does, and getting the community in here, buy come donuts, support them, it'll be a nice match for each other.”
Besides being up on the roof collecting money, cops will also raise money through a donut eating contest that was apparently a big hit at past events. The contest is open to the public to compete with local police officers for $5.
There is also a corn hole tournament, and for the kids: face painting, finger printing, and pumpkin decorating.
Like many non-profits these days, money is harder to come by for the FJC. Grants cannot cover the cost of all of the programs and operating costs, and the demand is growing. The more people know about the FJC, the greater the demand for their services.
According to Dale, after Terrance Lee was arrested for the alleged murder of his wife, 36 women came to the FJC in a two day period seeking help from abusive relationships.
The FJC normally sees about 100 people per month.