Behind the Badge: Indiana town marshal’s ‘Pop-Tart policing’ method receives big-time support

ADVANCE, Ind. – A town marshal who gained attention for handing out Pop-Tarts at a school bus stop is receiving some major reinforcements.

At the beginning of the school year, Advance town marshal Brad Thomas begun what was later coined “Pop-Tart policing.” Each day he would stand at the town’s school bus stop and hand out Pop-Tarts to the kids preparing to board the bus as a way to build relationships. Eventually, people began to notice Thomas’ daily ritual. And while he gained initial support, he says he never expected the response to turn into what it has.

“It’s really been a great thing, more than feeding the kids, it’s really been a community building thing,” he said.

After hearing his story, Kellogg's, the makers of Pop-Tarts, sent Thomas cases full of the sweet treats to support his efforts. According to a spokesperson, the company sent 264 “2-count sleeves.”

Thomas says the donation was unexpected but part of a larger public response. In the past months, he says he’s received donations of dozens of boxes of Pop-Tarts and hundreds of dollars from members of the public.

Thomas says the response has been bigger than he ever imagined it would be.

“It just keeps building steam, so I’m not sure where it’s going to end up at but it’s a great thing that Pop-Tarts have a good shelf life,” he said.

Recently, the marshal has missed a few days of handing out Pop-Tarts as he is currently working to become a teacher. However, Boone County sheriff’s deputy and local school resource officer Jeremy McClaine has been filling in his stead.

“He just approached me and wanted to know if this is something I could come out in the mornings and help him out with since I work with these kids every day. It thought it would be a great opportunity,” McClaine said.

Thanks to the donations from Kellogg's, and the community, Thomas believes he has more than enough Pop-Tarts to last for the entire school year. He says the community response has been proof of their willingness and need for more positivity.

“It just shows how people want to be a part of something positive, and how something as simple as a pop-Tart can be that thing,” he said.