Officers and Community Bond on Police Day
By Chéye Roberson
As kids kicked off their sneakers and jumped into a large bouncy house yelling with excitement and joy in front of the Greenwich Public Safety Complex—a place that people usually visit under stressful situations—it was clear to see why Police Day is a tradition.
Officers from the Greenwich Police Department and members of the community came together in the spirit of fun and camaraderie to recognize National Police Week and enrich their connection with one another.
“This is an opportunity for the Police Department to speak directly to the kids—it’s not about what they see on television or what they heard about, but an opportunity to see a police officer in a friendly environment and not wait for the typical situation where something bad happens,” said Lt. Kraig Gray of the Greenwich Police Department.
The fourth annual Police Day in Greenwich took place on Saturday at the Greenwich Public Safety Complex. Families were invited to hop into standard police vehicles and see operational demonstrations performed by the K-9 unit. The officers also handed out golden junior badge stickers.
The main idea behind the event was “getting the message across that we’re here to help, and open to help. That’s how they should look upon the police,” said Mark Marino, the police department’s deputy chief. “It’s our way of giving back and for the officers to meet the people they serve in a relaxed atmosphere. The town gets to see what we’re all about and talk to us.”
There were hot dogs and refreshments served in the lobby of the complex and guided tours of the Public Safety Complex were conducted every half hour. On the tour families got a chance to see the inner workings of a police station including the emergency dispatch center.
The center takes calls for police and fire emergencies. At one of the stations in the dispatch center were eight or nine screens which each displayed information that aids the dispatcher in locating the scene of an emergency and finding which police cars can be sent to the area to help.
Nick Didelot, a 911 dispatcher, said that an important thing to remember when after you have accidentally called 911 is not to hang up, but to stay on the line and let the dispatcher know the call was an accident. Otherwise, it may take an officer away from other duties.
“Just say you’ve called the wrong number. If we get a call that was a mistake and there is no answer – we might have to send a police officer to check it out,” said Didelot.
The tour around the complex also showed families a police interview room and how the police hand over evidence through a locked system that guarantees it is touched by a limited amount of people.
Members of the Junior League of Greenwich were in the lobby of the complex providing art materials for the children to make thank you cards for the officers to show appreciation for their protection of the community. The colorful cards were hung on the lobby wall.
The parents who participated in the event were happy that their kids had the opportunity to see police officers in a happy and fun environment.
“It’s great that the Greenwich Police are celebrating and sharing their special day with the community, especially with children, because we have the opportunity to meet them and learn more of what they do,” said Monica Sanchez Maz, a parent in attendance.
Maz said that her son, Michael, particularly “enjoyed getting his badge as junior police and he had a lot of fun in the bouncy house.”
John Robben, a photographer for the Greenwich Sentinel, became a mascot for the day. He brushed off a promotional costume he had of a character named Officer Asphalt from his brother Robert Robben’s book titled “Petroleum Pals.” Many of the kids and their parents took pictures with Officer Asphalt.
“When you’re dressed as a mascot, they can’t tell what race or religion you are,” Robben said. “There was incredible acceptance from the kids and parents taking pictures. And it was a fantastic way to give back to the police.”