Children tour SLT police station
Their favorite thing on the tour was police dog Buddy, a Belgian shepherd.
Trim and agile, he’s capable of chasing down criminals, searching buildings for drugs and obeying commands in a snap.
“We train them to walk through gun fire,” said Buddy’s master, South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Brian McGuckin. “A bullet I can’t call back, but the dog I can.”
The dog can be friendly, too. Last month he warmed up to seven children, all schooled at home, who took a mid-day tour of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
“I had in my mind a tour with the kids partly because my father was a captain at a fire department and I knew it would be fascinating for the kids,” said Cindy Sweet, mother of four boys. “I want them to know they should always go to policemen when in trouble.”
Officer Chuck Owens led the tour. It started off in the dispatch center and ended with the children examining the hard plastic backseat of a patrol car.
“This gal called me and wanted to see how police actually worked and ask questions and I said ‘Sure,'” Owens said. “The idea was to give them an overview and through the process see I’m not a scary person and that other officers are not scary … and to instill in them the difference between right and wrong and give them an understanding of the consequences if they are wrong.”
The children saw a patrol officer clean his pistol, witnessed an evidence technician collect a fingerprint and received a piece of candy in the officers break room.
They also visited with Officer Rebecca Inman who teaches D.A.R.E. in classrooms throughout town and runs the Explorers, a program that trains young people, age 14 to 21, in aspects of law enforcement.
Inman doled out D.A.R.E. trading cards and answered a couple of questions from children and parents on the tour. “Who is a stranger,” Sweet asked, for the benefit of the children.
“A stranger is someone you don’t know,” Inman said. “It’s also someone you may know but do not know well.”
For the most part the children were well-behaved. However, Laura Washalefsky, mother of two boys and a girl, said she did have to bribe them with ice cream.
Owens also reined in attention by pulling a pair of handcuffs off his utility belt.
“You never want to have these put on you – they’re called handcuffs,” he said. “They’re not fun.”
With the tour complete, Derrick Sweet, 12, stood a lawn outside the station and assessed the experience.
“It was all right,” he said. “Does it make you want to be a police officer?” I asked. “We’ll see.”
Pressed further he admitted seeing Buddy was his favorite part of the tour.
“(It was) the dog – even though I’ve been bitten by one. It’s interesting how they can train them like that. I like how they are trained.”
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