Local law enforcement officers will put down their badges, guns and Tasers late Thursday to don aprons and street clothes while holding drink trays, all in the name of a good cause during the annual Tip-A-Cop.
The event will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. at Colton's Steakhouse in Benton and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Special Olympics of Arkansas. Colton's is at 1929 Landers Drive, just off Interstate 30 and past the Walmart Supercenter.
"This is one night a year where you have a chance to give police officers orders," said Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer for the Benton Police Department.
"Just be sure to tip nicely," he added with a laugh.
Customers also will have the opportunity to throw a family member or friend into a mock jail at the restaurant for this one evening only. Russell said for $5 an officer will come to your table, lead someone to a "jail cell" and take their mug shot behind bars.
"But we'll let them out early for good behavior," he said. "We will also post their picture on share point site, linked from www.specialolympicsarkansas.org. We'll have more direct information about how to get the picture at the event."
Diners shouldn't worry that the officers could mess up food and drink orders as the Colton's Steakhouse wait staff will be working alongside them to make sure that orders are placed and served correctly. Russell also said that a limited edition of 2012 Law Enforcement Torch Run T-shirts will also be sold at the event, with the proceeds also directly benefiting Special Olympics of Arkansas.
More than $5,600 was raised during the 2011 Tip-A-Cop event, but officers hope to surpass that total at this year's event.
"For just a few minutes of your time, you can help support local Special Olympic athletes, and this is a great community event that benefits an amazing program," Russell said. "Your donation helps provide financial means for the athletes and their families so they participate in the activities that mean so much to them year round. I try to attend as many Special Olympic games as I can. It means a lot to the athletes, but it means the world to us, too."
Paula Calhoun, field representative for Special Olympics Arkansas Area 10 (Saline, Hot Spring, Garland, Clark and Pike counties), added, "Saline County has always been very supportive of the athletes, and I know I can always count on the local officers when we need things done. The athletes always look forward to seeing the officers, and they always bond with them."
There are also several Tip-A-Cop donation nights at various restaurants throughout the state on various dates. Check the Special Olympics of Arkansas website, www.specialolympicsarkansas.org for more details and locations.
"Colton's staff and customers always go above and beyond in helping us with Special Olympics," Russell said. "They provide all the promotional material, from the banner to signs inside their restaurant. They are just awesome when it comes to promoting the event. We are very thankful."
For more information about Thursday's event, call Colton's Steakhouse at 778-6100 or the Benton Police Department at 776-5948.