Gang Unit Donates 200+ Coats
12/22/2015 – The Tulsa Police Department’s Gang Unit marked a record year for taking illegal guns off the streets by wrapping less-fortunate youngsters in winter coats Monday afternoon.
Gang Unit members passed out more than 200 coats at several apartment complexes. It was the second such yearly Christmas giveaway conducted by the officers.
Khrista Johnson was one of the fortunate recipients, sporting a wide grin while wearing her new black coat. The 11-year-old enjoys riding her bicycle and playing in parks with her best friend. The two live in the Plaza Hills East Apartments near 17th Street and 129th East Avenue, where the Gang Unit made its second stop of the day.
“It helps me stay warm,” Khrista said. “I’ve been playing outside getting cold.”
Several officers helped kids sort through the winter attire, which included boys and girls styles from 24 months to 13 or 14 years old. A group of kids even posed for a photograph with officers.
Letha Thomas, Plaza Hills community manager, said it was a complete surprise when police rolled up. When officers explained, Thomas said she called some families she knew who were in need.
“We have 240 units out here and a lot of times they don’t have coats, they’re outside playing with no coats,” Thomas said. “This is going to make it so much better for them.”
Sgt. Vic Regalado, who oversees the Gang Unit’s night shift, said the effort is made possible by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Regalado said it’s nice to see the children happy as they slip into winter gear they can call their own.
Regalado noted the Gang Unit has seized about 225 guns from criminals this year, much of that with assistance from community members.
The unit’s previous record for seizures was in 2014 when 218 illegal firearms were recovered, according to police.
Regalado said the Gang Unit attempts to hand out the coats at apartment complexes they often patrol.
“So this is just our way of saying thank you,” Regalado said, “and letting them know all the times they see us under the worst circumstances we’re not bad people — that we do care.”