Yesterday Little Reader had a Brownie field trip to our local police department. Since it was just going to be about an hour long, it wasn't worth going home and coming back so I stayed for the tour and brought Little Hugger and Little Man with me. They were all very excited about it.
We started in the roll call room where the officers start their shift being updated on anything that happened since they were last working.
Then, we saw different areas of the office - the main control of the building and computers that update them on any major events happening nearby or elsewhere in the country that could effect us. They are constantly monitoring the Weather Channel in order to be prepared for severe weather and related emergencies. We had a tornado warning this past weekend and the girls all thought it was cool that the officer giving the tour was the one who had sounded the alarm we had all heard - but were a little disappointed that he wouldn't sound it while we were there.
We saw the evidence lockers, report writing area, sargeants desks (which also had the 10 most wanted pictures posted).
We went down to the garage and got to see the squad cars. There was an officer getting ready to go out on patrol so he turned on his lights for the kids and let them see his bullet proof vest (and a couple got to try it on).
The next to last stop was the holding area - aka the jail. It's down in the basement level and was a concrete walled room with 6 cells and one group holding area, a DUI processing area, and a room for interviews. There was a big desk in the middle for the officers. The kids all got to go in one of the cells, and after checking if they wanted him to, he closed the door to the cell, and turned off the lights so they could see what it felt like to be locked in. Lots of shrieking little girls.
He had been joking through a lot of the tour, but at this point sat them all down and very seriously said that today was the only day he wanted to see them there. If you break the law and get arrested you could get kicked out of college, lose your job, etc. At that point he answered questions
Little Reader had a couple
- what is the most common crime they see there? Retail theft
- are there more men who go to jail than women? Almost 50/50 but slight edge to the men
- could they meet the police dog? Nope, she was out on patrol.
He also made an important point that kids should never approach or try to pet a police dog, as they are extremely protective and on guard at almost all times. He also mentioned that these dogs are so smart that one way that the K9 officer lets the dog know whether it's time to work or if they're off duty is how they let them out of the car. If they are let out of the front passenger side door, it's time to go to work. If they are let out the back door, their shift is over and they can relax. I don't know if that's standard procedure but thought that was pretty cool.
- when was there last someone in jail? someone had been in there that morning
- how long do they stay? usually no more than 48-72 hours If they aren't released at that point, they get sent to Cook County
- what do they get to eat? Breakfast is a bagel and milk, hamburger and water for lunch and dinner
Little Hugger had brought her Book About Me and was very excited to get the officer's autograph, and he happily gave it. I was surprised that a lot of the other kids and parents had never seen it before. I had one growing up and gave them to each of my kids as pre-school graduation gifts. If you have young grade schoolers check it out, they're fun books.
We ended the tour in their break room for a snack (leftover s'more fixings from our campout). Each of the kids got a goodie bag to bring home - a coloring book, pencil, police badge sticker, and a ring that says Texting Kills. My kids didn't really understand what they meant as they didn't make the connection with texting and driving until I explained it.
One last thing that I hadn't realized is that if you are going out of town, you can notify the police and they will add a driveby of your house to their usual patrols for the duration of your absence. We have an alarm system and always let our immediate neighbors know we're going to be gone so probably would never need it, but still that's a nice option I was never aware of.
All the kids had a great time, and all the officers we met were very friendly and eager to talk to the kids. If you have a scout group or other group of kids that you're planning an outing for I'd definitely recommend checking with your local police department.