On Friday afternoon, a Biloxi police car led a Mardi Gras parade at North Bay Elementary School. These days, the students are used to seeing officers on school grounds. Through the Adopt-A-Cop program, the students are learning that police officers can be their buddies.
Chris Deback is one of seven officers in the program. He was adopted by the first graders. Every month, he spends about 30-minutes with the children.
Deback says the program allows the children to get in touch with officers and to relate to them. It also allows the officers to reinforce what the teachers and parents are teaching as far as values and skills.
Principal Laurie Pitre says the officers could go on field trips with their Adopt A Cop buddies, teach a character lesson, read a story or talk to them about the dangers of drugs or different safety issues.
The program helps build a bond between the officers and the youngsters. First grader Christopher McIntyre says he likes having a policeman at school, because he's never seen a real officer before. Third grader Lauren Taylor says she liked it when the officer came, because he's funny. He let the kids see all his equipment, like his handcuffs.
Chris Deback says he enjoys working with kids, to be a part of their activities, and assist them in their education. It's a call the officers enjoy answering.
If the Adopt-A-Cop Program is a success at North Bay Elementary, the Biloxi Police Department plans to expand it to all elementary schools in Biloxi.