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‘Tip a Cop’ earns a refill for Special Olympics

Stacy Eckert, a Federal Way police officer, pours water for guests Sept. 22 at Red Robin for the annual Tip a Cop event, which raises money for the Special Olympics. Federal Way officers raised about $2,600. - Margo Horner, The Mirror
Stacy Eckert, a Federal Way police officer, pours water for guests Sept. 22 at Red Robin for the annual Tip a Cop event, which raises money for the Special Olympics. Federal Way officers raised about $2,600.
— image credit: Margo Horner, The Mirror

Hannah Garoutte, 11, giggled as she slipped easily out of her handcuffs on Saturday and dangled them cockily in front of police officer Darius Aldridge's face.

It's a good thing the arrest was just pretend.

Federal Way Police Department officers on Saturday hosted the annual Tip a Cop event at Red Robin to raise money for Special Olympics Washington. Thirty-two Red Robin restaurants participated statewide and organizers aimed to raise $100,000.

In Federal Way, officers raised $2,600. They greeted folks at the door, passed out balloons, filled glasses of water and "arrested" people who gave a donation. The mock arrests were a crowd favorite.

"A lot of teenagers, they all want to pay to have their friends arrested," said Federal Way police officer Stacy Eckert, a school resource officer at Decatur High School. "It's really fun."

Cheerleaders and Special Olympics athletes from Decatur were on hand at the event to offer additional help greeting restaurant patrons.

Theresa Loeun, of Spokane, said the handcuffs were slightly uncomfortable after her friends paid to have her arrested in celebration of her birthday. But still she laughed and smiled the entire time she was being led out to the police car.

"The officer was very gentle," she said.

This was the first year Federal Way police hosted the event. Last year, Sumner police hosted the fundraiser at The Commons mall Red Robin.

Officer Darius Aldridge said he was enthusiastic to participate in the fundraiser, despite having worked the graveyard shift the night before.

"I have two special needs kids in my family, so I have a soft spot for it," said Aldridge, who also coached Special Olympics in Alaska.

Red Robin manager Jason Whitlock said the event is a hit every year and he looks forward to working with the officers again next year.

"I thought everything was really well organized," Whitlock said. "They've been great with the pitchers and the iced tea refills and the table touches... The guests love it."

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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