Sylvania Township Police reach out to kidsWritten by Logan Sander | | email@example.com
Sylvania Township Police officer Kelli Mussery and police dispatcher Nikki Henson paid a special visit to sisters Shyla, 4, and Aliya, 2, on Aug. 14.
Laden with pretend officer badges and plastic handcuffs, they came to reassure the girls, daughters of Howard and Tara Ice, that police officers are nice, friendly and available to help whenever needed.
“I think it’s important that kids are comfortable with police officers,” Mussery said. “Like I was telling them, we’re kind of the exception to the ‘stranger danger’ rule. I want them to feel comfortable to [approach] us if they for some reason get separated from their parents or whatever reason, so we can make sure they’re home safely.”
This past spring, the girls and their caretaker, Paulette Bucher, were playing in the front yard of their home when a police car drove by. The girls became a little uncomfortable.
“[Police officers are] kind of frightening to little kids. They’ve got this uniform, the kids hear that police take you to jail, so they were kind of standoffish,” Bucher said.
She had recently been trying to teach the girls that police officers are helpful and friendly, so she seized the opportunity and urged the girls to wave and say hello.
“I said, ‘I bet if you wave, they’re gonna stop and talk to you.’ And I really pumped it up, because they’re nice and they love kids,” Bucher said.
Shyla and Aliya stayed at the curb and waved fanatically, but the officer did not stop or wave as the car went by, causing the girls to wonder if police officers do indeed love kids, as their caretaker had told them.
Bucher said the sisters were heartbroken and disappointed, so she reached out to her daughter-in-law, Henson, who then organized the visit. She and Mussery came as representatives of the police force, but also came to be role models for the girls as female officers.
“We just thought it would be so cool since we had a female police officer, too, come for these two little girls and make a personal stop here for them,” Bucher said.
Although they were shy at first, the girls soon realized the officers meant no harm. They asked questions, took pictures with them and even got a chance to sit in the police car and turn on the lights. Both girls shrieked with delight as the officers let them switch on the sirens.
“I protect you from the bad guys,” Mussery told the girls and their cousins, who had come to join in on the fun. “If you’re scared and you can’t find your parents, we’ll help you.”
The officers and Bucher shared a common goal: to demonstrate that police officers don’t fit a scary stereotype at all, but are pleasant people who can be counted upon for help — especially for children.
“[I want them] to be comfortable around police officers and [know] that we’re good people, we’re the good guys and to know who to go to,” Mussery said.
Tags: Sylvania Township Police