SUISUN CITY — Children at The Salvation Army Kroc Center received a lesson in law enforcement Friday from experts – Suisun City police officers.
“A lot of times people see things on TV and they think police are scary,” Officer Walter Walker told the children in preschool and kindergarten.
“Bad guys think we’re scary,” he told children, but kids shouldn’t. “We’re here to help you guys.”
Calling 911, knowing your home address and turning to police for help were among the messages from Walker and other officers in the program that allows young children to meet police.
Five-year-old Mackenzie Rodrigues had a favorite among the lessons Walker provided.
“He said always call 911 when you have an emergency,” she said.
Walker said police work, particularly the pursuit of criminals, intrigues the young.
“Kids always want to know, ‘Do you chase after bad guys? Do you take people to jail?’ ” Walker said.
The Suisun City officer said he explains that, “Life is about rules.” Children have them at home and rules govern how adults have to act as well, Walker said. He also has a law enforcement lesson for parents – asking that they avoid telling misbehaving children that the police will come to discipline them.
“Don’t use police as punishment,” Walker said.
That can lead children to fear officers and avoid turning to them for help in a crisis, he said.
Capt. Jonathan Harvey, executive director of The Salvation Army for Solano County, said the program is intended to help youths see police as protectors rather than enforcers. Harvey, 42, still recalls police coming to class when he was a 5-year-old for a program similar to the one at the Kroc Center.
“I remember the officers coming with their police cars,” he said.
Catha Renfro, 43, an instructor in the Kinder Kroc class at the Suisun City center, said no such program was in place when she was a child.
“It would have been nice,” she said, adding that the country has changed a lot in the decades that followed. “Life wasn’t so crazy back then.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.