OUR VIEW: Camps allow kids to see different side of law enforcement

Published 11:30 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

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Typically, if your day includes a conversation with a police officer or firefighter, it means you probably aren’t having a great day. That’s not always the case — these folks are our friends, neighbors, church members, etc. — but in most cases, if your day involves a cop pulling you over or a firetruck at your work or residence, it’s probably a bad day.

Although it’s just part of their job, that means the average cop or firefighter usually deals with people who are not in their happiest moment. It might be a traffic stop for not wearing a seat belt or driving too fast or a medical call or fire that the fire department has gone out on, but all of those can result in a pretty bad day and perhaps even a life-changing event in some instances.

But not all interactions with police or firefighters have to be bad, and it’s important for law enforcement officers to get out into the community, hear from citizens and to develop relationships. It’s the missing piece from improving law enforcement around our country and bridging some of the gaps that result in people not trusting police.

We’ve always thought the LaGrange Police Department and Troup County Sheriff’s Office have done a great job at being present at community events, developing those relationships and being open and available to the public. Both LPD Chief Lou Dekmar and Sheriff James Woodruff are open to discussing issues, and any time something happens involving their department, they are accessible and willing to answer questions. Our fire departments are as well. 

Area law enforcement holds summer camps each year for children, giving the kids a chance to have fun, but also giving them a chance to get to know police officers and firefighters. It gives them a chance to see that these folks are real people too.

They are just doing their job, and they exist outside of difficult moments that may happen. As a child, your only real interactions with police come on cartoons or seeing them on the news.

Hearing from officers directly and getting a chance to interact and have fun with them is a huge opportunity. It’s well worth the time law enforcement puts into planning these camps.

It’s the same reason the LPD holds its Citizens Police Academy, which is an opportunity for adults to get to learn more about the innerworkings of the department.

These community outreach efforts are extremely valuable as they increase community awareness for what law enforcement does each day in our community.