Howard County Police will trade in their handcuffs and badges for Red Robin burgers and aprons this Saturday as part of a national fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
The annual Tip-A-Cop event launched seven years ago as a partnership between Red Robin and the Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign, which holds a series of relay runs and special events to fundraise for the Special Olympics.
Police spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn wrote in an email that Howard County police had long been involved with Special Olympics through the Torch Run campaign and that this is just another event as part of that ongoing effort.
She wrote that ten county police officers plan to serve food at the Red Robin in Columbia on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
“With the help of participating law enforcement officials and the generosity of our guests who have made donations, we have provided more than $2 million to Special Olympics programs across the country,” said Red Robin president Eric Houseman in a press release.
Maryland Red Robins raised more than $20,000 in 2011, and Linda Ellingswoth, a spokeswoman for Special Olympics Maryland, said she hopes to break that record this year.
"We expect to grow each year," Ellingswoth said. "I think we have more locations that are participating this year, and a lot more involvement from law enforcement overall."
The charity works year-round in the Free State to put on more than 30 events that include a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities, Ellingswoth said.
In addition to Columbia, 380 Red Robin restaurants in 39 states will participate on Saturday. All Maryland Red Robins will donate a portion of Saturday's proceeds, but only seven locations will have officers serving burgers. In addition to Columbia, police will be at locations in Annapolis, Bowie, Bel Air, Germantown, Owings Mills and Waldorf.