BRIDGEPORT — With all the sirens and flashing lights of cop cars around 6 p.m. converging on the Connecticut Post Mall parking lot, it looked as if an emergency was under way.

Instead, local law enforcement officers Tuesday night were taking a group of children living in at-risk neighborhoods on a shopping trip.

Some shoppers turned their heads, some pulled out their phones as dozens of police cars filed in procession to the Target in the Milford mall for the latest version of Shop with a Cop.

The event is a partnership between law enforcement and the REACH Foundation — a non-profit organization founded in 2000 to help children physically, socially and financially in need.

Officer Jonathan Simmons, who is a patrol officer in Bridgeport, was partnered with 10-year-old Ja’Sean Mangum.

“I saw the department email that went out to all the officers and thought it was a good opportunity to get involved with the community,” Simmons said.

The purpose of the event — which began in 2013 — is to strengthen community outreach. It provides children in need the chance to meet a law enforcement officer in a happy setting and to shop for their families and another child in need.

From Woodbridge to Norwalk, officers from all over Fairfield and New Haven counties participated in the event in Milford.

The children wandered the aisles with their carts and shopping buddies, causing traffic jams in the area of the toy aisles. The children were partnered with an officer who patrols their town or city.

Milford police officer Joe DeStefano pushed his shopping buddy Ian Walker, 9, in their shopping cart as they looked for presents for Walker’s family.

“Right now, in our cart, we have $31.98 of presents,” DeStefano said shortly after the event began. “We have $69 left to spend.”

“Let’s go find more,” Ian responded.

Officer Nick Ortiz of the Bridgeport Police Community Service Division was partnered up with his 12-year-old shopping buddy, Nasir Edwards.

“I’m getting stuff for my family members — like my brother and my uncle,” Nasir said.

The 12-year-old was one of 15 students chosen to participate in the shopping experience by the Columbus School Lighthouse program, according to Mark Harp, who works for the Lighthouse program.

“We hand-picked some of the kids going through a real emotional time — and we’re trying to give them a different life,” Harp said. “We’re trying to bring them out and expose them to a little bit more happiness instead of always being sad.”

Officer Mike Salemme, of the Bridgeport Police Community Service Division, was partnered up with 8-year-old Christopher Fields.

“I’m shopping for me, my mom and my baby brother. He’s 3,” Christopher said. “So far, I picked out earrings for my mom.”