Make an impression on kids with stickers E-mail
Written by Tom Wetzel   

We certainly want those perspectives to be positive. Understanding this better should help influence an agency's community policing strategies to include how to best connect with young people. Developing their trust and support early is important.

There are all kinds of different ways that cops reach out to kids from programs that teach them Internet safety like e-Copp, how to look both ways when crossing the street through Safety Town or how to avoid drugs through DARE. Sometimes it may involve cops reaching out to teenagers through athletic leagues.

Other times, it may be a friendly wave or stopping to chat with them during a foot patrol. But many of these officer friendly contacts can be enhanced when a cop hands a little gift to a kid. Now the positive memory is enriched further due to the child getting something along with the kindness of the officer.

When looking for a reasonable priced item that can fit in an officer's uniform shirt, consider police sticker badges for little tykes. Having handed many of them out, it is easy to see the value these have for both kids and their parents. The fun looks on the faces of young toddler to early primary grade kids and the appreciation of their parents will make it obvious to an officer just how special this community relations opportunity can be.

I have occasionally noted at times what appears to be an initial suspicion particularly from a parent when I begin to approach them. This may be the result of negative contacts they have had with cops over the years or disinformation they have heard or read about.

Entrenched bias can be a particularly difficult fence to hurdle for a police officer. But doing an act of simple kindness toward a child of someone who feels this way can be a fine start. An officer will likely find that the initial suspicious or contentious look almost always washes away when a law enforcement officer suddenly hands their child a small gift. The initial look may change to a genuine smile.

Cops and kids have always had special relationships as police officers often have a role of a Guardian Angel and role model for little ones. Most people are familiar with The Runaway painting by Norman Rockwell that shows a kid sitting next to an officer in a diner. The fact that the little boy feels comfortable next the officer speaks volumes about the role model we serve as for kids.

We protect them and they trust us. The fact that these stickers are police badges also present an early recruiting opportunity for us as the young runaway may one day grow up to be a cop.

Handing a kid a little police badge sticker is a natural extension of our special relationship and an officer will quickly recognize the mileage these simple sticky pieces of paper have to build on that friendship.

Tom Wetzel is a lieutenant with an Ohio law enforcement agency.


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