We had a fantastic time with the second graders of Binns Elementary School and Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief Michael Woods today. They were so attentive and excited to hear the story of Horton Hatches the Egg. The book is a childhood favorite of the deputy chief's, and a title that, when we first mentioned the program to him last year, he instantly said he would love to read to a group of children himself, so it was really wonderful to see this event happen.
The kids loved interacting with him and Community Liaison Officers Ryan Sigman and Brian Newsome. After the reading there was an extensive question and answer session. Things like, "How many people have you arrested?" "How come you have stars on your shoulders and they don't?" and "How long have you been a cop?"
And then, "How did you get your badges?" To which another child responded, "They earned them."
The most poignant question was one directed at Deputy Chief Woods, "How much is your badge worth?"
"To me, it's worth everything." As he expounded upon his answer, he very sweetly made sure it was at a level kids could understand, and yet the adults in the room also understood exactly what he meant. He clearly cares very much about his community and about being a Columbus police officer. It was a very beautiful moment.
We asked the kids if they'd like their books signed by the officers and they enthusiastically cheered their answer. Then one child asked Deputy Chief Woods if he'd put a star next to his name (to denote his rank) when he signed their books. It was very cute that he did not initially say anything about who he was or that he was a different kind of officer than Ofcs Sigmund and Newsome, but the kids knew he was and had a fair number of questions about that. They wouldn't let him get away from it, even to the end, when he was signing books.
When we were leaving, one of the teachers said that the children would remember this event for the rest of their lives. Truly a great way to kick off Books and Badges 2020. Thank you, Deputy Chief Woods, for your support of this program and of Starfish. We're so excited to see what we accomplish with you and your officers this year!