Have you ever wished you could ask your local police officer all the odd questions that pop in your mind? Kids at the Buckner Family Hope Center™ at the MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas had the chance last week while attending summer camp. They had a special treat in the afternoon: Oreos with Officers.
Oreos with Officers began in 2017 with Terrence Graham, Dallas Police Department corporal. He has been with the police department for more than 12 years and has watched the program evolve over the past few years.
A group of Dallas police officers and community engagement staff visited the Family Hope Center alongside Graham and spent more than an hour answering any questions the children asked.
“The purpose of this event is to give the kids the opportunity to build a relationship with the officers that serve in the community they play in, live in, participate in different activities in,” shared Keri Pettis, Buckner Family Hope Center manager/director at West Dallas. “I think that’s really important because they know who is there to protect them and can ask any questions about current events and build that bond and trust with law enforcement.”
Some of the questions included what the items on their belt are used for, what the police department’s motto is, even why 911 is the emergency number and more. And if the officers didn’t know the answer? They are already planning their next trip to report back.
“That’s how you build that rapport,” Officer Graham said. “We might not know the answer right away, but we can find out and come back and let them know we are here for a relationship and to answer their questions rather just visit once.”
A few of the questions led the officers to discuss a few safety tips and recommendations to help keep these kids safe in any situation.
“The officers did walk them through different scenarios of what to do like when you call 911, characteristics to give, or if you see this happening what to do immediately to keep themselves and their families stay safe,” Pettis said.
Creating the opportunity to have these conversations ensure children in the community can get information from the right source and share what they find out with their family, friends and community.
“These conversations are going to go from here to the car with their parents and then it might even come back in conversations with their friends one day when someone may have heard something about a police officer or the law,” Graham continued.
The officers extended their stay to eat lunch with the group because the students had more questions. They broke into small groups of about six kids with one officer where every child was able to ask more in-depth questions.
“The goal of the event was to allow kids to see that what they have to ask and what they have to say matters,” Pettis shared. “Kids know their voices and questions matter, and we want to encourage them to ask those questions, even to their parents, if a police officer isn’t available.”
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