Hollis Police Department introduces trading cards

HOLLIS – Move over Pokemon, not to mention Ted Williams or Mickey Mantle: There’s a new set of trading cards in town.

The Hollis Police Department launched a new set of trading cards. Students in grades K-6 can try to collect all 20 cards, each with a photo and short biography of someone in the police force.

Kids can approach an officer or employee, write a letter, or simply go to the police station and ask to see an officer. Each of the 20 people depicted on the cards has been instructed to keep a stack of them on hand, according to Chief Joseph Hoebeke.

Hoebeke said when he worked at the Hudson Police Department “in another life,” they had a similar program, and there were kids lining up in the lobby for cards.

“It’s a fun contest for the kiddos,” he said, calling the Hudson program a “huge hit.”

Hollis also tried out the trading cards about 20 years ago, he said, which is why this new iteration is the “second edition.”

Ultimately, the goal is to build positive relationships with the local kids.

“These are difficult times for public servants. We want to show that human side of our officers,” Hoebeke said. “It shows our commitment to maintaining and fostering relationships with the future of our community.”

In his experience, such relationships pay off. When he participated in the Hudson program more than a decade ago, there was a girl who had won for her grade level. She and her sister, who also was a grade-level winner, attended a pizza party at the police station. Roughly 13 years later, Hoebeke ended up teaching the girl in an online class at Southern New Hampshire University, and she told him he was the reason she wanted to be a police officer.

The cards were funded by the Hollis Police Department Benevolent Association. The program is also a way for the department to introduce some of its newer, younger officers to the community.

The contest officially started this week and officers will be present at Hollis Old Home Days today for anyone who wants to get a card. The contest will continue until the first student from each of the participating grades has been identified. After a full set has been collected, the student must bring all 20 cards to a teacher at his/her school, or bring the cards to School Resource Officer Rick Bergeron.

Students are asked not to bring the cards to school (or on the bus) unless they are getting verification that they have collected all 20. Officials also urge students not to approach officers for a card if they are conducting a traffic stop or investigation.

Students of all ages are also encouraged to participate to facilitate positive community engagement.

“It makes us all better,” Hoebeke said of community projects.

For more information about the contest, visit the Hollis Police Department website at www.hollisnh.org/police.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.