Area youths have put a heavy rush on local police officers who are distributing free trading cards with color photos of Redskins stars on one side and crime prevention tips on the other.
Twenty-five law enforcement agencies and two military police units in the Washington area are passing out the cards free for the asking in an effort to educate youths on safety and to give them a reason to get to know their local officers.
"The cards are going like hotcakes," said Alexandria police spokeswoman Kathy Salvas, who said the officers distribute 6,000 cards a week, with no leftovers. "The kids are really wanting the cards and they don't hesitate to ask an officer for one."
On their neighborhood beats and during school visits, police will hand out 3.2 million cards over 16 weeks, a different card each week during the professional football regular season. This Friday, officers will pass out linebacker Monte Coleman, the fourth card in the 16-card series.
A football fact and crime prevention and safety tip is written on the back of the card. On quarterback Joe Theismann's card, the crime tip reads: "Perhaps you don't agree with all laws but you should obey them. Be a good citizen and cooperate with law enforcement officers."
Local police began distributing the cards last year and already the 1982 cards are being sold as collectors' items for $3.50 a set, said Arlington police spokesman Tom Bell.
This year's cards, heralding the Redskins as Super Bowl champions, were printed with the card collector in mind.
"Each card has something to do with the week they're distributed. I don't know how many people would notice that because it's kind of subliminal," said Bell. "I imagine card fanatics would pick up on that."
For example, Theismann's jersey number matches his number in the series--seven.
Participating police departments, organized through the crime prevention group Police and Citizens Together, began the free trading card program last year after discovering that Los Angeles police ran the same program with their local football teams, Bell said. Currently, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami and Seattle police and local police in Minnesota have similar trading card programs with their football teams.
Bell said Frito-Lay gave the police group a $29,000 grant to print the cards. The players featured on the cards were chosen by the Redskins.
Redskins spokesman Charlie Taylor said several players have taken a great interest in the card's crime prevention program, including Mark Murphy, Monte Coleman and Neal Olkewicz, who was a Fairfax County deputy sheriff two years ago during the off-season.
"This group of guys does more in the community than I know of," said Taylor.
Bell said safety Tony Peters, who pleaded guilty in federal court Sept. 2 to drug-related charges, was scheduled to appear on the fourth card, but was removed from the collection because he's not playing this year. Peters appeared in the series last year, Bell said.