"Cops and Barbers" events provide haircuts, school supplies to Columbus youth

Police officer Pete Casuccio (left) and barber Robert Cayson (right) talk at a Cops and Barbers event in Columbus. (WBNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A few years ago, a Columbus police officer sat down in a barber's chair. The man with the scissors was once a prison inmate.

They struck up a friendship, which led to an idea to help inner-city young people. An idea that’s taken off.

Pete Casuccio has a job title — police officer. So does Robert Cayson — barber.

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Their friendship produced a couple more mentors and community leaders. They created an initiative called Cops and Barbers.

Last year — their first year — they served a couple dozen young men in inner-city Columbus.

With this effort Sunday and one coming Monday, they want to reach a thousand young people. A number they never thought they'd reach so quickly.

“No, not in a million years. I did not think it would be like this. This is a shock to me,” Cayson said. “All the activities and everything people donated and stuff like that, it's out of this world.”

Cops and Barbers gives young men fresh haircuts and backpacks full of school supplies.

High school student Emmanuel Jennings doesn't take his new look for granted, either.

“Last year, probably got my haircut twice and that was it,” he said.

Fourth-grader Cameron Parker also enjoyed the experience.

“It feels good,” he said.

Robert and Pete both got some help themselves.

AEP Ohio signed on as the premier sponsor of their events and the non-profit, Starfish Assignment, helps connect law enforcement to the communities they serve.

Other Cops and Barbers events are Monday. They're in South Linden and on the north side.

Boys get a fresh haircut and girls can create friendship bracelets with female officers — and all kids get new school backpacks.