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September 12, 2019

"Cops and Barbers" Event Delivers Haircuts, Backpacks and Friendship

Cops and Barbers is an initiative to help youth in the inner city of Columbus start the school year right by providing them with a positive perspective on police and giving them fresh haircuts and new school supplies.

The two-day event took place on Sunday, August 18, 2019 in Columbus’ south side and Hilltop areas and on Monday, August 19, 2019 in the city’s east side and South Linden areas. This year, with the added support from AEP Ohio’s energy efficiency programs as the event’s premier sponsor, Cops and Barbers served more children than last year, including a new component for young girls. 

“When we heard the story of Cops and Barbers, we knew we had to invest both time and financial support,” said Tracie Campbell, energy efficiency program coordinator for AEP Ohio. “This initiative is making a difference in our communities by enriching the lives of the next generation and we’re proud to be a part of those efforts.” 

Boys received a fresh haircut and girls had the opportunity to create a friendship bracelet with female police officers. All participants also received a backpack with new school supplies, stuffed earlier in the week by AEP Ohio's Grid Modernization team. Participants were also able to enjoy visits from the Columbus Division of Police’s mounted patrol and helicopter while the City of Columbus taught bicycle safety and AEP Ohio’s lineworkers gave rides in a bucket truck and the energy efficiency team gave out free lightbulbs and nightlights. Many groups helped make the day possible including AEP's African American Employee Resource Group and the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Employees, both retired and current, rolled up their sleeves, as well as family members of AEP Ohio employees.

“What better way to start a kid off going to school than by having them a fresh haircut which makes you look good. If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, it gives you more confidence about yourself,” said Campbell. 

In 2018, Pete Casuccio and Robert Cayson started the Cops and Barbers initiative serving 20 kids. 

“Rob Cayson, a current barber and former felon, and Pete Casuccio, a Columbus police officer, bonded over a haircut and shared passion for steering inner city youth down the right path,” explained Nicole Banks, president and founder of Starfish Assignment, a Columbus-based non-profit that helps connect law enforcement officers with the communities they serve.

With Rob’s experience as a barber and his childhood, giving back to children that have a similar childhood to his is natural for him. 

“We are making sure they look good on their first day of school because a lot of people can’t afford that. And, I come from a place that people can’t afford a lot of stuff,” Rob said. 

For Pete, Cops and Barbers is much more to him than just a haircut and fun event for children. 

“The best type of crime prevention is connecting with kids when they are young and giving them that spark of confidence,” said Pete Casuccio, officer for the Columbus Division of Police. “A fresh haircut and school supplies might be the motivation they need to stay in school and continue down the right path.”

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