ASSIGNMENT UPDATE: We were asked to help support the summer program at Milo Community Center.
REFERRING OFFICER: Columbus Division of Police Community Liaison Officer Tony Rogers (7 Precinct).
Starfish donated $100 to sponsor a barbecue for today at Milo Community Center. In addition, with $355 in donations on the fundraising post, center manager Mario Dovell reports he'll be able to have weekly cook-outs for the kids for the rest of the summer.
We kicked off the event with our first Books & Badges reading since March 13. (Yay!!) We had two officers read--Deputy Chief Tim Becker, who is also a Starfish Board Member, and 20 Precinct Community Liaison Officer James Poole, who has organized more Books & Badges readings than any other officer.
The kids were thrilled to receive copies of Where the Sidewalk Ends, and as we handed them out, we could hear adults say, "Oh, I love that book!"
Chief Becker read kid-favorite, "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out," but started by asking if anyone refused to take the garbage out. One fearless little boy raised his hand and said he did. At the end of the poem, which discusses all the horrible things that befall Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout because she would not take the garbage out, Chief Becker asked him if he was reconsidering that position. The boy nodded vehemently. There's going to be some happy parents in that house!
The Chief asked if anyone wanted to try reading aloud, and indeed we had a guest reader. He did a fantastic job, too!
After every Books & Badges session, the kids get to ask officers questions, and they asked several of the ones we usually get asked. One child asked Chief Becker if he'd ever shot anyone, which is one that the officers have been asked many times in readings, but this time a few kids in the audience shushed him and asked him why he'd say that. It was very sweet, like they were being protective of their new CPD friend. But that's part of what Books & Badges is about--and it's a legitimate question that the Chief easily answered. (Surely many of you would like to know as well--no, he's never had to shoot anyone. He's been shot at, but he wasn't in a position that he could safely return fire, and luckily he was not hit.)
As for how long he's been on the force, he joined in 1988, which Ofc Alex Mottinger quickly and happily pointed out: "That was before I was born!"
Our friends at CPD also brought some amazing things to the party. Safe Streets came and taught the children about bike safety through games and races. Then the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation donated equipment to teach the children about street hockey, with each child going home with their own hockey stick and ball, and the Department of Neighborhoods giving each child a helmet so they can play safely.
Ofc James Poole and his family donated a dunk tank, which as you can imagine, was a huge hit, with him and his fellow officer, Tyler Hicks, daring to enter the tank. Then...an officer offered Deputy Chief Tim Becker a donation to Starfish Assignment if he'd get in the tank. And that's all it took, which Chief Becker going into the tank in his uniform, to the delight of everyone around.
Despite a brief storm, no one's spirits were damped. We had games indoors until it passed, with one rec center participant beating the competition in a stiff game of musical chairs. That competition even included former Ohio State Buckeyes star CJ Barnett. How's that for bragging rights?
It was such a fun day and much needed by everyone involved. Thank you all for making it possible! We really appreciate you.
Finally, Maria Durant from ABC6 covered this event. She did a marvelous job and was a joy to have at the event.