DOBSON — In an effort to spark community trust of law enforcement, the Dobson Police Department has undertaken an initiative to get out and get to know the town’s youngest residents.
And it seems to be working.
During an event Friday at a mobile home park on McGuffin Drive, more than 70 youngsters came out to meet the local police and receive an education on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. It was held from 5 to 7 p.m.
The event featured a four-wheeler that licensed drivers could operate while wearing Fatal Vision goggles and a pedal car for younger participants. The goggles simulate the effects of alcohol on driving.
It’s part of an initiative by Police Chief Shawn Myers to foster mutual trust between the community and law enforcement.
“We do these as often as we can,” Myers said Tuesday. “We want to get out and participate in the community by holding these kinds of events for civic or church groups.”
Myers especially wants to target the next generation of town residents, noting that they decided on the McGuffin Drive because it boasts “the largest population of juveniles we have in the community.”
“We go to places where we know there are children because we want to get to know the children in the town and befriend them so they’ll feel comfortable if they ever need us,” he said.
During Friday’s community outreach effort, Myers and Officers Larrie Robinson, Ronald Marshall and Brian Thomas set up a simulated road course with cones in the mobile home park’s parking lot, allowing children to attempt to navigate the course while wearing the Fatal Vision goggles. In addition, they simulated a field sobriety test on the kids while they were wearing the goggles.
“We want to educate the children about the dangers of operating a vehicle while under the influence, and if they can learn something from their experiences with the goggles, it could prevent a DWI down the road,” Myers said.
But in addition to education, the event was about community outreach, according to the chief.
“The main thing was to allow us to meet the children in the community and let them get to know us,” he said. “We want them to know we’re not just here to arrest people or give citations. We’re here to help them as well.”
Judging by the results, Friday’s outreach was a success.
“Initially, when we were thinking about setting this up we rode down there in our patrol cars,” Myers said. “When we pulled up, most of the kids would leave.
“Now, when we show up we’re mobbed by children,” he added. “And that’s a very, very good thing.”
Anyone who would like to schedule an outreach effort for their civic, school or church group should call Myers at 356-8161.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.