Police officers take students under their wings ANNE ARUNDEL EDUCATIO

January 25, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

"Do you have spies like the FBI?"

Five Annapolis area boys asked city police officers about everything from spies to guard dogs to jail cells last week as they toured police headquarters. The youths, four of whom attend Hillsmere Elementary and one who is a student at Georgetown East Elementary, toured the police station as part of a mentorship program.

Every other Wednesday, Assistant Chief Joe Johnson and Capt. Norman Randall visit the four students at Hillsmere Elementary -- Julius Murray, 9; Kenneth Parker, 9; Kyeron Church, 10; and Javon Chase, 9. The two officers invited the boy from Georgetown East, Eric Dunning, 10, along on the tour after a request from his mother.

The young men spent about two hours with the senior officers and Chief Hal Robbins chatting about police work.

"I saw 'Lethal Weapon,' and I know it's not like real life, but do police get to use automatic weapons like the bad guys?" Eric asked. "In 'Lethal Weapon' all the bad guys had automatic weapons."

And, Kyeron wanted to know, "What type of dogs do you use? Pit bulls?"

Yes, police do use automatic weapons. And, no, the K-9 dogs are not pit bulls. They are German shepherds and Doberman pinschers.

The mentoring program began in October as the brainchild of Hillsmere special education teacher Renee Waters. Ms. Waters said she was seeing the four youngsters from Hillsmere several times a week and noticed similarities among them.

Some are being reared by one parent, or grandparent. And, all were spending too much time in the principal's office. "Instinctively I just knew the students needed something," Ms. Waters said.

That something has turned out to be Chief Johnson and Captain Randall.

"They seem to be developing a rapport with the students," Ms. Waters said. "Now the students really look forward to their visits.

"The program also gives them the opportunity to see role models in their occupations. This gives them a more realistic view of people in everyday jobs and how they can be role models," she added.

The youths got plenty of opportunities last week for a hands-on experience.

They met Satin, a K-9 Doberman pinscher. The dog demonstrated how he protects his handler and then let his guard down to allow the boys to pet him. And a few motorists on Taylor Avenue probably did double takes when they spotted the boys practicing with a radar gun outside the police station.

While the youngsters, one of whom wants to be a full-time police officer and part-time astronaut, use words like fun to describe their weekly meetings with the officers, the visits also have held a lot of meaning for the adults involved.

"I'm really enjoying it," Captain Randall said. "I really just love being with the kids."

And, Chief Johnson added, "We didn't know what to expect when we got involved. But they're really super kids. We hope to do a lot with them.

"There's also a sense of giving back to the community. That makes me feel good," he added.

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