Safety partnership links students, law enforcement
Sgt. Willie Davenport, a bomb squad technician with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), operates his Remotec Andros robot in front of Coan Middle School students Andreona Wynn (left), 11, and Kashara Washington, 12, during a Partnership Safety Day at Hedekin Field on Fort McPherson May 7. Nearly 600 students from eight schools attended the event to interact with 14 law and safety enforcement organizations.

On May 7, 595 students from eight schools partnered with Fort McPherson visited the installation and interacted with members of local law enforcement agencies during a Safety Day partnership.

The event, held on Hedekin Field on Fort McPherson, took place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and featured displays by 14 different agencies including the Georgia State Police; the Highway Emergency Response Operator unit; the Georgia Tech campus police; the East Point, Forest Park, and College Park police departments; the Clayton County, Henry County and Fulton County police departments; and the Fulton County Special Weapons and Tactics squad.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority police squad, Dobbins Air Force Base security forces, Fort Benning military police, and Fort McPherson Wellness Center were also in attendance.

Capt. Anthony Streeter, Directorate of Emergency Services chief of operations, was a driving force behind setting up the event, and sent out the invitations to the local agencies to get them to participate.

"Basically, we wanted to get all the public safety agencies together to meet with the public to explain their jobs and capabilities," he said. "Most people don't get to see what they do and what they are capable of."

In this sense, the day served as an educational tool for the public, which is exactly what Camellia Jefferson, U.S. Army Garrison schools liaison officer, planned.

"A lot of students are not sure what they want to be when they grow up, and some (of the students who participated) are at that time in their life when they need to start thinking about their future," she said. "This was like a job shadow day. They got to see different jobs and speak with subject matter experts."

Jefferson said she received positive feedback from some high school teachers, who called back to let her know that several of their students were leaning into police related fields based on interactions at the event.

Even for students not considering career options, the trip was beneficial. Streeter said children of all ages got a better understanding of police, fire and public safety departments and their equipment.

"It's something most don't see every day," he said. "Kids usually just see them (emergency services) when they are responding to something."

At the safety day, the kids got to experience things hand on, with many of the agencies allowing children to handle equipment, be it wearing a bullet proof vest or holding a portable battering ram or a riot shield.

"They liked it when they could try on the actual attire, the hands on stuff," said Denita Carr, a third grade teacher at Toomer Elementary School. "I think every child should experience something like this."

Carr said her students attended as part of a class field trip.

She said the educational benefits extended beyond just learning about police and their jobs.

"I feel if you talk to kids about things like this when they're young, you can head off problems later," Carr said.

Jefferson also said that the trip was educational because many students had never been on a military installation.

Thus, it became a chance to see military culture and learn more about the local history of the military in their community.

"It was a chance to see different lifestyles, cultures and enhance their knowledge of history," Jefferson said.

Though the event only lasted three hours, those hours laid a good foundation for the future, Jefferson said.

"It was a super event. Everyone walked away with good understanding," Streeter said. Jefferson, and more importantly, those in attendance, agreed. "They had a good time," Jefferson said. "They want to come back again before the base closes."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16