Children see friendly side of police

Published 8:11 am Friday, April 24, 2009

FRANKLIN—If police here have it their way, children won’t think trouble is brewing every time they see a city officer patrolling the streets.

“We want them to know that we do more than just arrest people and take them to jail,” said Franklin Cpl. Keith Rose. “We want to reaffirm with them that we are their friends and they can come to us for help.”

Rose, along with Officer Joseph Spurling and Lt. Tim Whitt, met with children at the Suburban Gardens Head Start Center on Thursday to give a safety talk.

Rose taught the 15 3- to 5-year-olds how to dial 911 in an emergency and gave them rules on gun safety.

During the 911 lesson, Rose let the children use a simulator to dial the number and respond to an emergency dispatcher.

“Now when you’re on the phone, don’t hang up with the operator,” he cautioned the children as they made the calls.

Jamari Seaborn was one of the first students to try the equipment and responded as the dispatcher asked him for information about the emergency, his name and address.

“OK, hang up the phone,” Rose told Jamari as the operator was talking.

Jamari complied.

“No, no, no,” Rose laughed. “Never hang up the phone while there’s an emergency,” he told the children good-naturedly.

Moving on, Rose taught the youngsters what to do when they encounter a gun.

“What do we do when we see a gun?” he asked the excited kids.

“Stop! Look! Leave the area!,” they shouted.

Rose and Spurling then ushered the children outside to give them an up-close look at their police cruisers.

“They do this on their time off,” said Whitt as the children scrambled to get their chance to turn on the lights and sirens. “Keith does a lot of work like this in the schools. He loves kids and loves interacting with the kids.”

Rose said he likes to talk to children before they develop a fear or bad perception of police officers.

“We want to lead them in the right direction early,” he said. “It gives us a better relationship with the children.”

Whitt added, “We want them to know we are people, too.”

Spurlock said he likes seeing the children while on patrol after having met them at a safety talk.

“It’s such a good feeling seeing the kids wave and smile at you,” he said.

Before the officers left, they shared Frisbees and rulers emblazoned with Franklin Police Department, as well as coloring books about safety.

“They gave us crayons, too,” said 4-year-old Kenaz Jones.