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GPD to host Cops & Kids Day

The Greenville Police Department are inviting children and their families to come by the department for a day of fun and games during its inaugural Cops and Kids Day, slated for June 24.

Beginning that Saturday morning at 10 a.m., members of the community will have the chance to meet and greet all divisions of the Greenville Police Department, including patrol officers, investigators, SWAT team members, school resource officers, animal control officers and more.

Greenville Police Department chief Justin Lovvorn said that it’s an opportunity for the department to grow a little closer to the community they serve.

“It’s just a chance for the community to get to know us better, come by in a neutral environment and meet some of the officers they may not know and get a feel for what we’re all about,” Lovvorn said.

The department has done similar outreach programs before, including an event held at the department’s shooting range in which the county’s eighth graders were educated on law enforcement protocol in a series of real-life scenarios.

Next Saturday’s event is at once both simpler and more expansive, according to Lovvorn.

“This particular event that we’re doing now is not a lot of scenario-based, but it’s informal and there’s still a lot of hands-on,” Lovvorn said. “They get to come out there without fear of intimidation and get to speak to the officers and see the equipment they use, and get familiar with the police cars and SWAT trucks and the different divisions to understand how a police department works. 

“There’s just a different mission that patrol has as opposed to investigations.  They all have the same arrest powers and employer in the same department, but their goals are different.  The patrol is a proactive, preventative measure, and investigations is a reactive thing. 

They’re two different ends of the spectrum.”

In addition, the drug task force will discuss the various challenges they face in tackling the county’s drug-related incidents.  And school resource officers will introduce themselves to students transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle school to high school so that they’ll have a familiar face in a new setting.

A variety of other first responders will be in attendance, including Life Flight, the Greenville Fire Department and Gems Ambulance.

The department will also provide free child identification and information kits for all parents to keep in case of an emergency.

The kit tracks a child’s given personal information, including fingerprints, dental records, DNA, photo ID and more.

Lovvorn said that the kits aid greatly in officers’ investigations involving children.

“The main purpose of it is if your child were to ever go missing or a crime involving your child, all of the information in the kit could be used to help law enforcement do their job faster,” he said. “If you call us now and there’s a problem, and you have that ID kit, you could give it to us and we could enter them into the national database for missing children within minutes. The only maintenance required is that you keep the picture updated.”

As far as entertainment goes, there will be Air Jumpz, a blow-up 30-foot obstacle course and more.

“We will have free hotdogs, sodas and water as long as they last,” Lovvorn said. “We’re going to be grilling, and as long as we can, we’ll be grilling and giving out hotdogs and drinks. That’ll be there for whoever comes.

“And once an hour, we’ll be doing a big giveaway for the kids.  It’s going to be these larger, really nice Lego sets that go for more than $100 apiece.  We’ll draw names every hour and give one of those away every hour.”

And, as the name might suggest, though many aspects of the Cops and Kids Day skew toward younger audiences, Lovvorn is confident that young adults and parents have just as much to gain from the experience.

“I’ve had parents call with older kids who are looking to do an internship or job shadowing, because they want to go into law enforcement,” Lovvorn added. “And I tell them we’ll get that set up, but until we get that started, we’re going to have this event coming up on the 24th.  It’s a great opportunity even for an older kid to see what the department’s all about.  You get a big overview of everything in just 10 minutes, and you can spend as much time with whatever your interest may be.

“The kids bring the adults with them, so I think we have stuff that any adult would enjoy.”