(July 12, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Twenty area children enjoyed the reel deal on July 7, spending the morning fishing with officers from the London Police Department.
Dubbed “Casting With Cops,” the event took place at the Gwynne Conservation Area on Arbuckle Road, just outside of London. Each child received a fishing pole and tackle box. The police department also provided bait and snacks. A grant from the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s “Step Outside” education program funded the outing.
“A lot of things had to come together to pull this off, but when you hear a little 6-year-old say, ‘This is my first fishing pole and my first time catching a fish,’ it makes it all worth it,” said Police Chief Glenn Nicol.
The purpose of the event was three-fold: to give children exposure to an activity they might not normally experience; to encourage children to explore nature and give them the tools to enjoy future outings; and to provide a positive interaction with law enforcement in a pleasurable setting.
“It’s a chance for kids to see cops in a different light,” Nicol said.
With the success of the inaugural event (everyone caught a fish!), Nicol said he hopes to make it an annual tradition. He plans to apply for the grant each year and involve different children each time. He also is working with the Division of Wildlife to put together a larger fishing outing that is open to the public.
Several organizations helped to make Casting With Cops possible. The Madison County Department of Job & Family Services assisted in identifying participants and helped at the site. Wildlife Officer Matt Teders and the Ohio State University Farm Science Review provided support. The London Nazarene Church provided their van for transportation.
Casting With Cops is one example of the London Police Department’s community outreach efforts. The department also takes part in the Madison County Senior Cen-ter’s Senior Fair, the Chil-dren’s Services Child Abuse Prevention Carnival, and the Madison County Emergency Management Agency’s Safety Expo.
The department donates recovered, unclaimed bicycles to Community Action to give to children in need. The department set up a “safe exchange zone” outside the station for public use for meeting unknown people for online sales; it also is used for custody exchanges.
Officers take part in an annual volleyball game with Special Olympians and host a send-off for local athletes participating in the Special Olympics Summer Games. Other outreach activities include Shop With a Cop at Christmas, civilian training for active shooter response, and traffic safety campaigns.
Coming up on Aug. 1, the police department will host its first Night Out from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Cowling Park on North Main Street. Area residents are invited to visit with local first responders, register their bicycles, participate in a baseball throw and soccer ball kick, and enjoy free ice cream. Youngsters will be able to “touch a truck,” as fire engines, medics, loaders and police cruisers will be on display. The event is affiliated with National Night Out, a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.
Also in the works is women’s self-defense classes.