I work as the Neighborhood Resource Officer for the south district in Madison. In my neighborhood there is an elementary school which I often visit. I was recently contacted the school principal with concerns about one of the students. After getting the information, I went to speak with the child’s guardian. I spoke to the guardian, but the child was not present. I told the guardian I did not need to speak with the girl, I just wanted to assist if I could.
Later that night, after I had ended my shift, the girl called the police station looking to speak with me. She told the officer who answered that she did not do anything wrong and, from the context of the message, was scared.
The next day, I was walking in the neighborhood when I saw the guardian and a child. It was a cold snowy day and both were bundled up. The guardian moved the child towards me and said “here she is.” The girl looked terrified. I tried to talk with her, to explain she was not in trouble. The girl continued to look afraid and said she had done nothing wrong. I agreed, but knew at this point I would need something to help break the ice with her. I asked her to wait and said I would be right back. I went to my squad car and grabbed a book as well as a drawstring backpack. I also had a police department coloring book I put in the bag.
I returned and asked the girl if she liked to read. The girl’s eyes lit up and she nodded. I then gave her the book from REACH-A-Child. The girl seemed surprised when I said it was for her and she could keep it. She then saw the coloring book and felt comfortable enough to ask me for crayons. The girl then opened up even more and asked for a ride home in the police car! I drove her and her guardian home, allowing the girl to sit in the front seat and look at the police car. Upon arriving at her home, the girl thanked me profusely.
If not for the REACH-A-Child book, I do not think this interaction would have ended positively. The girl was obviously very frightened of me initially, but when provided the book, she opened up, enough so to ask for a ride in the police car! The REACH-A-Child program is amazing and I am so grateful for the books and backpacks!!
Officer Amelia Levett, Madison Police Department