The Bismarck Police Department tells parents not to be alarmed if you see a patrol car parked at your kid’s elementary school.
Most likely it means one of their Adopt-a-Cop volunteers is on scene, working to get to know the community’s youth.
It’s all a part of a bigger movement to humanize our police officers and give them face time with Bismarck’s next generation.
Patrol Officer Michael Paulson says, “If we get called to their house, typically it’s a negative experience, so we try to get out; show them that there is a fun side to us. We are humans, not everything is business.”
We visited Solheim Elementary School this morning, but the Police Department does their best to have a couple officers at every elementary school in Bismarck.
Both Officer Paulson and his partner, Officer Tony Keegan, attended Solheim Elementary School years back. Now it’s where they are stationed in the mornings, as the first friendly face these kids see going into school.
Fourth grader Olivia Kemp adds, “I feel like there’s not going to be anything bad happening, which I know there wouldn’t be, but just to know we’re safe.”
Most of the kids would agree, and seeing the same officer every day makes a difference.
Keegan explains, “Police officers get a bad rap for things and kids see that on T.V. That’s not really how it is, so we’re here to help people. That’s what we’re here for.”
The kids shared, that before Adopt-a-Cop, they weren’t used to interacting with police.
Fourth Grader Ryan Kopp adds, “I really don’t get to see cops too much, unless my dad forgets to change out of his cop clothes.”
Keegan says building that positive relationship with young people will teach them that law enforcement officers are their friends and not someone to be afraid of.
There are 24 Adopt-a-Cops this school year.
Officers not only greet the kids first thing in the morning, but sometimes they also stop by to eat lunch with the kids or talk with them about safety issues in schools.