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'It’ll always be worth it': Cops and Barbers event continues to help Columbus youth

Inside the Fresche barber shop off North High Street there’s an infectious personality with a refreshing outlook on today’s troubled youth.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Inside the Fresche barber shop off North High Street there’s an infectious personality with a refreshing outlook on today’s troubled youth.

“What I’m doing is only a small scale of what’s been happening with the youth around here,” Rob Cayson said.

Cayson wasn’t always a barber. He was once a troubled youth, himself, and spent six years locked up for drug and gun charges.

When he got out, he found meaning and purpose through clippers and scissors. He’s been the friendly, neighborhood barber for the last nine years.

And, six of those years he’s spent giving back.

“Anywhere from a thousand to 1,500 kids,” he said. “Yeah, total.”

And helping him make it happen, Pete Casuccio.

“Yeah, it’s kind of humbling when you think about it,” Casuccio said. “Goes by quick.”

For the last nine years, Casuccio has been patrolling the Linden area as a Columbus police officer. The two met one day in the barber’s chair while Cayson cut Casuccio’s hair.

“What you actually had is you had two good people kind of in the midst of a crazy world who decided they wanted to do something positive,” Casuccio said of his relationship with Cayson.

The last six years, they’ve been the faces of Cops and Barbers. It’s an opportunity for city youth to receive haircuts and back-to-school supplies.

Casuccio says it’s about seeing a need and filling a need.

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“Having the opportunity to interact with [children] kind of puts everybody on a human level,” Casuccio said. “When it’s not an official capacity it allows them to kind of see an officer as a human being.”

Casuccio and Cayson both know it’s grown bad; the city’s homicide and crime rate.

“I feel it’s actually been getting worse from the time I started to the time now,” Cayson said.

What they can tell you, though, is that there’s a fine line between engagement and brushing it off. What they’re doing is more important than ever and this unlikely pairing both know that good is not lost.

“Yes, it’ll always be worth it,” Cayson said. “From then, till now, till the future, it’ll always be worth it.”

This year’s Cops and Barbers event will take place Sunday at the Linden Recreation Center in Columbus. 50 pre-registered boys will receive a haircut and 50 pre-registered girls will receive a gift certificate to have their hair washed and styled.

All students will receive new bookbags filled with school supplies. The event is hosted by the Starfish Assignment and is sponsored by AEP Ohio.

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