Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brashear Kids and Our Police Friends

When Brashear began to partner with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh back in May and ALEC was born (more on ALEC here) we realized we had a heavy police presence due to having the Pittsburgh Zone 3 Police next door to us. Our students seemed to have a dim view of police. They saw them more as strangers than friends. We talked to Commander McNeilly about this perception our students had, together we agreed that this was not what we wanted for our children and for our neighborhood. We scheduled a few visits and things started to turn around.

Police officers began to smile and wave to our students more, a few took time to stop and ask them friendly questions about their current activities in our after school program.  One officer noticed a child was having a rough day, he asked the child's name and just had a relaxed conversation with the student, it took their mind off the small thing that had upset them in the first place.

Through curious questions and silly stories they were able to begin to humanize the officers and together we turned strangers into friends. Officer Eric Baker's visit was a fun one.  The students were so excited they could barely contain themselves and often blurted out questions before another student was finished with their turn.  He talked about his dreams and aspirations when he was their age and how he became a police officer.  Officer Eric shared his favorite parts of the job and even the difficult aspects. There were other questions like "Do you have a dog?" and "What is your favorite food?"

He took us to a squad car to explore and see inside.  The officer showed the students his computer, the lights, the horns and what makes this car different from other cars. They crawled in and out of the SUV giggling and laughing.  Below is the example of what they said when given the opportunity to use the loud speaker on the squad car for.

(Full Disclosure: Ms. Amber and Mr. John did not go to jail.)

When a police friend walks by our storefront windows, the students excitedly jump to the window to wave crazily at them until they wave back.  The little gestures that the Zone 3 Police have shown that they care has made a world of difference in our students lives.

We understand that our police friends have a difficult and trying job and sometimes they have rough days, but the times that they stop to smile at a student or praise their sidewalk art are great days and you can tell from their smile it meant a lot to the child. 

Thank you so much to all our police friends who work so hard and still find time to ask about sidewalk chalk pictures.  You are appreciated and we look forward to more visits in the new year. 


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