CORY MCCOY, email@example.com
Officer Kerri Long spotted a familiar face as she walked into the cafeteria at Birdwell Elementary to participate in Tyler ISD's new "Blue Plate Special" program. Cameron Adkins immediately made his way over to Officer Long to say hi.
Long, a Community Resource Officer with the Tyler Police Department, was asked a few years ago to help with a problem student.
"I did career day a couple years ago, and he was a problem child," she said. "So I spoke to him in a stern way, and now he remembers me every time I come by."
Long spent her lunch Friday laughing and getting to know Adkins and his friends at Birdwell as part of a new program Tyler ISD has implemented to show appreciation for law enforcement while helping officers creating relationships with students.
The district is offering a free lunch to all Tyler and Smith County law enforcement officers at any of its campuses. The program runs every school day throughout the year.
Birdwell Principal Bethany Moody was glad hers was the first school to participate. She has made building a partnership with law enforcement a key element in her vision as she embarks on her first year with the school.
"Having a positive relationship with those in public service at the earliest age possible will help our children see them as partners in our community," she said. "We want to show them what roles officers have in their own community."
Long said that interacting with students and families is an important part of her day-to-day job.
"We want to start early and get them used to police officers, so they're not scared of us," she said.
Birdwell will soon begin a pilot program that will bring Tyler ISD officers into the classroom. Moody hopes to create a model that will help the district encourage involvement at every age and grade level.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Officers must be in uniform and sign in with the receptionist on each campus.
For more information, contact Tyler ISD communications at 903-562-1064