We're sure when Columbus Division of Police Officer Shawn Pepper woke up today he didn't think he'd be putting a deputy chief in handcuffs, but as he found out, anything can happen at a Books & Badges reading. His partner, Officer McCool, had the idea to let the kids at the Salvation Army summer program handcuff them, and as you can see it was great fun! Officer Pepper was happy to demonstrate proper technique on Starfish Board Member and CPD Deputy Chief Tim Becker.
This event marked the beginning of our Summer 2022 programs and we had so much fun. Chief Becker read to the older kids and Officer Geoff Masters read to the younger ones, with Zone 1 Safe Streets officers split between the two groups. The kids loved Officer Masters--wanted to dress him up in his hat and sunglasses, get his autograph not just in their books but on additional pieces of paper, and get piggyback rides from him. (They really loved him.)
The older kids had lots of questions, and the team of officers enjoyed answering them. One child asked Officer McCool what was the worst thing he's seen as an officer. That is the toughest question any officer can ever be asked and our heart sank when we heard it, but Officer McCool did a wonderful job. He said that they encounter people on their worst days, that no one calls them when they're having a cookout or when they got a new puppy. He said he appreciated how attentive and fun they've all been, that this has been a nice event and that every bad thing they've seen on TV or can imagine, they've seen.
Chief Becker agreed and said they've seen a lot of sadness. One example he thought was particularly relevant is guns because there's a lot of talk about guns, and in the last few months they've had kids find guns. He asked them what they should do, and many of them gave the correct answer: don't touch it and call an adult.
He said that just a few months ago, a young person was going to school and saw a gun. He ran up to the house it was outside of, and they called the police. It ended up being a key piece of evidence in a crime from the night before. We thought that was very exciting and we were all very proud of that young man for being such a good citizen and being so smart.
All of the kids in both classes were treated to lots of time with the officers AND they got to go play with the cruisers--including lights and sirens. So much fun and the officers want to go back again soon to say hi to their new friends (and maybe get some more hugs).