One of our most recent and successful meetings lately was at the our local police station. A female officer had been assigned to our unit for the evening so we could learn about the job of a police officer in a rural / small town community. She was AWESOME!
Officer L. was super friendly with the girls and did a fantastic job answering many questions – some inappropriate – in a fun, age-appropriate manner. We talked about her experiences as a female and smaller officer and the different types of officers.
She also gave us a tour of the station where we met some others on duty and explained how things worked. Each girl got a chance to climb into a police cruiser and turn on the lights, and also to sit on a police ATV, where we snapped a quick picture of each and sent it to their parents.
Officer L. had brought in a big ol’ box of Timbits with her for each girl to have a couple, which was super nice and thoughtful of her. She said she didn’t want them to be hungry!
We had an amazing experience and it was the best “night out” since I started with the unit. I definitely would encourage you to reach out to Fire/EMS/Police in your area for visits as well. We had a good time last year at the fire department and will try to visit EMS soon.
I am applying this experience towards a couple of different badges. It is one of the jobs in the community lessons we are working towards (Key to My Community), as well as safety badges, which we will build on later.
At the end of the meeting, I brought up some safety rules. I asked if they would ever get into a vehicle with, or take food from, a stranger; had them recite Mum’s/Dad’s first and last names and phone numbers, and their home addresses. About half of the girls didn’t know the phone number or address so I alerted the parents to this. I also used our next regular email to talk about a family safe word, and encouraged parents to build on these discussions to make one.
I always try to have books on a related subject. It helps reinforce the message and also is a great time filler when needed. I used them the next week as we ran out of time on this night, but here are some options:
- Topsy and Tim meet the police
- I’m afraid your teddy is in trouble today
- Daddy, I worry about you
- Police: hurrying, helping, saving!
- Let’s meet a police officer
- Big Mike’s police car
- A day at the police station
- Officer Buckle and Gloria
- Keeping you safe: a book about police officers
- Busy people, busy police
- Officer Dan looks for clues
The other great thing was that at the beginning of the night, I had asked the girls who wanted to be a police officer when they grew up and only two hands went up. At the end of the night, about three quarters of the girls put up their hands. Success!