Charlottesville police officers spent the day with hundreds of area kids to show them the police force is more than a collection of uniforms and badges. It was all part of the annual "Cops 4 Kids Day" put on by the Charlottesville Police Foundation.
The day of fun with officers is meant to disband stereotypes of cops being intimidating, and give kids who may have had a frightening or negative experience with police a more positive perspective.
Charlottesville Police Foundation Executive Director Mindy Goodall said, "It's neat for the kids to get to see who the police officers are as people, as well as what they do, and get to see them as leaders in our community that they can look up to and they can call on if they need anything."
The interaction with police included tours of forensic vans, SWAT team demonstrations, and a set-up where K9s are set loose on pretend "convicts" (see video below). Free dinner, ice cream, a teen vs. cops basketball tournament, and other activities were also set up. Kids ages 6 to 18 were involved in the event.
Organizers estimate 200 to 300 children came out for this year's "Cops 4 Kids Day". It ran from 4 - 6 p.m. Friday evening, May 3rd at the Boys & Girls Club on Cherry Avenue. This was the fifth year for the event.
The Charlottesville Police Foundation is a group of community members set up to support the department by fostering positive interactions with the community, helping officers with housing grants, hosting a annual Awards Dinner, and providing outside training the city can't budget for.
I want to thank you and the other individuals who organized [the Appreciation Dinner]. Often, the men and women who serve this community fail to receive the recognition and praise they so well deserve. They are local heroes and should be reminded that their service to this community is appreciated by the individuals they protect and serve.