Last Friday, Columbia Borough police officers were under fire, allegedly by two teenagers with a grudge against law enforcement.
On Tuesday, a Columbia Borough police officer was building a more trusting relationship with a younger group of borough children.
Officer Troy Engle met with more than three dozen youngsters in the gymnasium at Park Elementary School as part of the Columbia Public Library’s summer series.
Engle said community building with local kids has always been important for police.
“It’s not just an extra duty,” he said. “It’s a fundamental we have to build on. The children see that we’re really people.”
The series, according to library director Lisa Greybill, also features guests ranging from bug and snake experts to firefighters and EMS personnel.
But the program Tuesday was about letting kids know that police officers aren’t the bad guys, she said.
“We’re trying to rebuild the Columbia community into something positive,” Greybill said. “We’re hoping these kids grow up to respect the police.”
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Greybill referenced the events of last week when she introduced Engle.
“I’m sure many of you know there are people out there who don’t always like police officers,” she said.
“Police are not the enemy,” she added. “They’re the good guys.”
The situation last week was resolved without anyone getting hurt, she told the children, and police “got the bad guys in jail without firing a single shot.”
Parents, too, seemed pleased with the opportunity.
“The kids need to know that the officers are friendly, and not someone to be afraid of,” said Columbia mother Brandy Platt.
Fellow mom Christina Beeman agreed.
“They need to see that police officers are here to help them,” she said. “They are part of the community, not something to be afraid of.”