The first graders at Lincoln Park Elementary School were treated to Books and Badges readings from Columbus Division of Police 13 Precinct Officer Heidi Graber and Community Liaison Officer Tim Mounts today. Their teachers chose to read Bad Kitty Does Not Like Snow. The kids in Ofc Graber's class thought it was funny that the cat was supposed to wear a coat since he already had a fur coat on. Smart kiddos!
They had lots of questions for the officers. Ofc Graber had to explain to them how she gets dressed in her uniform and what every item on her belt is. Her long question and answer session was rewarded with a hug from every single student.
One of those students opened up to Ofc Graber about traumas he witnessed in his young life. This isn't unusual for neighborhoods like South Side. The first time Starfish went to 13 Precinct was in 2018 to meet with Sgt James Fuqua, who was then the second shift sergeant, and who is now the Division's Public Information Officer. Instead of meeting with our president, Nicole Banks, in his office that night, he took her for a ride around the precinct to show her what the area is like.
Sgt Fuqua grew up very close to the area he patrolled on the South Side and witnessed a murder when he was a young child. Like all too many kids in that area he, and the child that Ofc Graber spoke to today, endured unspeakable traumas. It was that meeting with Sgt Fuqua that sparked Starfish's strong partnership with South Side officers, a relationship that continues to this day.
These children genuinely enjoy having the officers come in and read to them. They crave that interaction, and we're honored to be able to partner with CPD to provide that. Just as all the students in Ofc Graber's class wanted to give her hugs, Ofc Mounts told us, "I spent as much time with those kids hugging on me at the end as I did reading the book to them." 💙