It isn’t every day that a youngster can see a SWAT team or inspect a fire truck, but that is exactly what a bunch of kids from Clarksburg and Damascus got to do this week as part of the 5th District – Germantown’s Badges for Baseball initiative which works to expose children to police officers in a positive manner. Given the current atmosphere in the nation of tension between police departments and the communities they patrol, community outreach has become a very important connection.
Montgomery County Police continue to work with young people in the community to help them understand the important service that police officers provide. 5th District Community Outreach Officer Marcus Dixon has set up the Badges for Baseball program with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. The program was created in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice as a juvenile crime prevention initiative. It’s a simple concept: pair cops and kids together to play and learn.
This week Dixon and his friends which include officers from Montgomery County Police SWAT team, Montgomery County Animal Services Police, and Maryland-National Capital Park Police, and Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services visited day-camps at the Clarksburg Town Village and the Damascus Community Recreation Center. Last week, Dixon and his friends were guests the Plum Gar Community Recreation Center in Germantown.
The camps coincide with areas where Dixon has introduced the Badges for Baseball programs in MCPS schools. Badges For Baseball has a 12 week lesson plan which Dixon presents at four middles schools in the 5th District, Baker Middle School in Damascus, Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, Neelsville Middle School and Kingsview Middle School in Germantown.
“During the school year we do lessons on responsibility, conscience building, accountability, and self-discipline,” said Dixon. “These visits have more of a show and tell aspect but the kids really seem to enjoy them.” It is show and tell with a hook and ladder truck or a horse, or a demonstration by the SWAT team.
“The idea is to teach kids a little bit about different professions,” said Linda Panagoulis, Director of the Damascus Community Recreation Center. “While they might get a little of that in schools at career day, but you don’t get a SWAT team coming in and get some of the very special ops folks coming in to speak to kids. It also gives the children an exposure of what it might really be like to be a police officer, it adds reality to what kids might expect about an occupation. These programs help kids to learn more about their own capabilities and opportunities, which is exactly what an art program does.”
Top: On Wednesday and Thursday, kids at Damascus Community Recreation Center learned about different aspects of police work, as well as the inner workings of a MCFRS fire truck or two.
Next: A mounted member of the Maryland-National Capital Parks Police interacts with kids at the Damascus Community Recreation Center.
Next: On Monday, Officer Dixon and the Badges for Baseball program were in Clarksburg.