FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO) – Washington Elementary invited the Fort Wayne Police Department to join the students in “Paint with the Police.”
“Paint with the Police” is an event intended to help law enforcement officers earn the trust of children. The officers introduced themselves to the children and talked about what they do. After introductions, they made their rounds and painted with the children. Officers with the FWPD and the Indiana State Police attended.
It all started with a young boy who had missed the bus to Washington Elementary. The boy was trying to get to school when a stranger approached him because he looked lost. He told her that he didn’t know where he was going. So the stranger called the police and he was afraid to get in the police car. He would rather ride with a stranger than ride with the police. The officer followed the woman to the school and she dropped him off.
Public Information Officer for the Fort Wayne Police Department Sgt. Sofia Rosales-Scatena said “The principle was told the story. So she wanted to find a way that we could get in here and the kids could see us, that we’re friendly and we’re not bad people.”
FWPD Captain Mitchell McKinney also painted with the kids. He is encouraging all of the officers in his department to participate in these events. He said “We are our own social media. It’s about your social skills. If you can’t put yourself back into a playground like when you were a kid having fun, you’re in the wrong profession. Everything we do is not fun. We get that, but we don’t go looking for that. It finds us and we have to take care of it.”
McKinney says it is important to get to know these kids and for officers to take in some positive things and have fun. He said “You’ve gotta deposit good stuff into your bank or if you make too many withdrawals, it’s just not good for you. Which is why PTSD is so high.”
This is the first school that the event has been held at, but the FWPD hopes that more invitations will come once other schools catch on to what they are doing. Sgt. Rosales-Scatena said “We welcome any invitation we have at all. Kids need to know that we are friends and we can help them and not to be afraid.”