By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
Area law enforcement officers gave new meaning to public service Tuesday.
About 15 officers from Copperas Cove, Coryell County, Harker Heights and Killeen police departments participated in the Tip a Cop event at Applebee's, located at 2700 E. Central Texas Expressway.
The officers assisted restaurant staff in greeting customers and serving food and drinks in an effort to raise money for the 27,610 children and adults in Texas with intellectual disabilities, said Cory Meredith, Area 12 director for Special Olympics Texas.
Tip A Cop is done as part of the local committee for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money for Special Olympics programs in all 50 states and throughout the world, Meredith said.
Sgt. Allen Teston of the Temple Police Department shares a close, personal connection to Special Olympics Texas because his 12-year-old son has autism.
"It's a real heartfelt thank you to the public," said Teston about the opportunity to serve them.
Teston's son has played basketball and participated in track and field events for six years with Special Olympics Texas.
"It's always exciting to see the effort he puts forth," Teston said.
Teston appreciates the opportunity Special Olympics gives him by making it possible for him to see his son compete in sports.
"I know every father wants" to see his children be able to compete, he said.
"He really just has fun getting out there and putting on a show for people. He hams it up out there," Teston said.
"Sometimes, he gets distracted by the crowd cheering, and then he stops and claps with them," Teston said.
Officer Dave Haley of the Harker Heights PD helped organize Tuesday's event.
Haley said Applebee's General Manager Bert Smith "was very energetic about us coming in here and holding a Tip a Cop."
Haley said the event is an opportunity for the public to see officers outside of their normal duties.
Cpl. John Oster of Copperas Cove PD said he earned a new respect for servers.
"You build a respect for what they do because it's run, run, run."
Applebee's server ChannellCrapper welcomed the support from the officers.
"They're good," she said.
The customers also enjoyed the service.
"I was very impressed," said Jo Howard, who ate lunch at Applebee's. "I was gonna ask him when his shift was over."
Haley said customer responses are almost always positive, but many are surprised.
"We get all kinds of different looks," he said. "One lady said, 'You mean police are gonna be serving us lunch?'"
The proceeds from Tuesday are part of the local torch run committee's efforts to raise money and awareness about Texas Special Olympics.
The Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1985 and has become one of the largest in the nation. During the last decade, the torch run has earned more than $11 million through the fundraising efforts of local law enforcement, according to a Special Olympics Texas news release.
Local torch runs will be held the week of May 20 in anticipation of the Texas Special Olympic Games in Arlington, Meredith said.
For more information about the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Texas, visit www.specialolympicstexas.org or call 1-800-876-JOIN.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7468