COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Division of Police is trying to build relationships with children in an effort to make a positive impact with a special summer camp.
This is the third round of campers making their way through the Columbus Division of Police Training Academy. Officers said a deadly crash Sunday night is just one example of why they want to be there for youth.
For 9-year-old Charlotte Runk, visiting the Columbus training academy was a new experience.
“It’s just really fun,” she said. “We were a bit nervous at first because it was our first time.”
The summer camp with CPD focuses on building relationships between officers and children, teaching lessons about bullying and consequences, and sharing what officers do.
“I like how they teach us lessons more and like more things that we need to learn,” Runk said. “It’s not an everyday thing that you get to hang out with a bunch of police and play dodgeball with them.”
Micah Ward, who is 9, added, “I’ve learned gun safety and like I’ve seen most of the training places out in the academy so it’s pretty cool.”
Columbus Police Community Liaison Officer Robin Medley said the program is important to him. This weekend, before this camp session started, three 14-year-olds were in a crash involving a stolen vehicle. Two died and one was injured.
“We oftentimes tell parents, but also the kids, ‘We want your kids to run to us, not run from us,’” Medley said.
He added officers want to be resources for children now and as they grow up.
“To let them know that we care, to talk about topics that they’re going to deal with in their neighborhood and their home or at school and it’s important to us,” Medley said.
Runk said for her, this was a good experience.
“They really do like to play around and have fun,” she said.
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant also stopped by to see the campers. She said sending the children to a camp like this puts out a positive message.
“For your parent to co-sign and let you know that it’s OK for you to interact with the police, that it’s OK for you to be involved and have that mentorship — I think that the more parents we have involved, the more successful all of our programs will be,” Bryant said. “We’re excited about it and we’re excited to not only work with the children but to work with the parents as well.”
There is one more session this summer for families to consider getting their children involved. You can do that online through Columbus Recreation and Parks.