Kids, canines, cars: SoJo PD and Fire Department personnel share their world with wee ones
Jul 08, 2019 02:51PM
● By Jennifer J Johnson
First-time Daybreak Explorer’s Club members, the Mayos, check out emergency vehicles. (LiveDaybreak/Daybreak Community Council)
By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]
“I bet they throw up back there!”
It is the wide-eyed revelation of 8-year-old Cooper Thompson, learning about ambulances as part of an educational experience offered by the Daybreak Explorer’s Club.
The Explorer’s Club is offered once a month, the first Tuesday of each month at the Daybreak Community Center. Different, free, parent-accompanied activities are offered each month. “Explorer’s” started a few years ago and includes activities spanning art, science, crafts and nature. During June, children residing in the planned community were able to get up-close and personal with local police and firefighters.
The event was, billed as a meet-and-greet for kids, police officers and fire fighters: “Come meet your local police and firefighters! Learn about what they do, take a tour of their vehicles and say hello.”
Police cars and trucks, an ambulance, and, perhaps what one would assume would be a kid favorite—a full-blown fire truck—were on hand for the young explorer’s to conceptually test-drive. Even the police canine unit appeared for a cameo interaction. Six members of the South Jordan Fire Department and four representatives of the South Jordan Police Department participated in the fun, educational event.
A kid’s-eye view
Having just read about famous fires throughout history, young Cooper Thompson explains his relationship with firefighters thus: “Keeping people safe is really important … I like keeping things safe, just like firefighters.
“Anything that has flashing lights, he’s obsessed with,” said his mother, Brooke Mayo.
“We learned about the jaws of life; they were so cool,” said Mayo’s great-nephew Kayden Mayo. “It was taller than me! My favorite thing was seeing the firemen; I got a badge and got to go in their truck!”
For Cooper, however, “the police truck was my favorite.”
“We showed the kids our cars and talked about how they’re different from other vehicles out there,” said Police Sgt. Sam Winkler. This “showing” was a literal “bells-and-whistles” experience, where some of Daybreak’s youngest residents got to hear sirens and see lights, all standard aspects of SoJo Police vehicles.
But what was most memorable to Cooper? “I really liked the prisoner seats in the back.” But, he critiqued, “They’re not comfortable.”
Parents weighing in
“It’s great for [Cooper] to see what [police officers and firefighters] do and how things work,” said Weston Thompson.
He indicated this was the father–son duo’s first time participating in Explorer’s Club.
“Ben is obsessed with fire trucks, so when I saw that there would be fire trucks and police cars, we couldn’t resist,” said Mayo. “He has all the toy versions of all these emergency vehicles.”
Like the Thompsons, this visit to Explorer Club was the Mayo’s first time as well.
“He is just fascinated with the inside of different cars,” she said. “He’s been so excited about this; he’s been talking about it all day.”
Besides being a fun, interactive event, events such as these are important for these services.
Winkler is coming up on 20 years with the South Jordan Police Department as a master police officer and sergeant for special services. In his community-facing role, he manages events such as these and oversees school resource officers.
Winkler, himself, is a Daybreak resident, who said ensuring a strong relationship with the community is not just professional, but “personal” as well.
“We work for the community,” he said. “The better relationship we have with the community, the more likely we are to give us support.” Winkler indicates that So Jo Police Chief Jeff Carr established a high bar for community involvement, when he was selected to head the department in 2015.
“One of his biggest requests is to spend time with the community,” he said. “To him, community involvement is the reason we have a job. It’s something he did implement when he came here.”
Winkler’s comments are spot-on with definitive research about police and early childhood.
“The time has come to rethink the connections between police and early childhood settings,” asserted Dr. Katey De Gioia and Dr. Fay Fadley in their report “Exploring the Role of Police Officers in Early Childhood Settings: Creating a Meaningful Connection with the Community.”
“This requires new ways of working authentically and meaningfully that has multiple benefits, including children, families, communities and the early childhood and police professions,” the researchers theorize. Bonding with police through early childhood settings offers opportunities to form close networks and to break down stereotypes of the role of police in the community… and provides opportunities for children through early childhood settings to develop an awareness of the concept of police and their role in serving and protecting community.”