OZARK, Mo.– Often times, police officers step up in scary situations. But the Ozark Police Department is trying to prove they can have fun too.
Two times a year, the department does activities with children and teaches them how to be safe. The “Hero in Training” program recently held a bike safety event for 6 to 11-year-olds.
One group of kids eat or play in a police car. While the other does an obstacle course.
“Just to learn about bike safety and what officers do,” 10-year-old Hudson Arnold explains.
Arnold already knows quite a bit about the job. His father Justin is Ozark’s police chief.
“I want to be a police officer like my dad just to help the world become a better place and keep people safe,” Arnold said.
He now knows how to be safer on his bike.
“They did do a good job of talking to them about safety, about wearing a helmet,” parent Lana Garcia said.
Garcia brought her kids and niece to the event.
“It was really important to bring them out so they recognize all that law enforcement does in our community. I really wanted to set the tone that law enforcement are safe people, people that they can go to,” Garcia said.
Corporal Truman Isbell said the program happens two times a year, with kids around 6 to 17 years old.
“I think it’s our outreach to the community,” Isbell said. “I think that’s something a lot of the surrounding agencies including Ozark really try to do, is to try to reach out to our community and the people that live here and the kids and just get them interactive and involved with the police officers.
They get to see us. That we’re real people.”
The Missouri Municipal League – which promotes municipal government and administration across the state – honored the initiative with an innovation award, saying it enhances the quality of life for a large city.
“We’ve been trying to win that award for quite some time,” Isbell said. “So, for us to actually win it was a great honor for us. I think it means a lot to the community and I think it’s neat that the Municipal League sees that as well.”
The Ozark Police Department will accept the award in St. Louis on September 28.