Poff Elementary hosts Lunch with Cops

Thursday, December 12, 2019 | 12:01 AM

When the police show up for lunch at school, it’s best to save them a seat.

At least that’s what hopefully happened at Poff Elementary during a Lunch with Cops event, where several of Hampton’s finest joined the students for a bite to eat.

“We want to build a relationship with students and let them see us in a positive way,” said Hampton Officer Carl Good, who was on cafeteria duty on Dec. 6 at Poff.

Sgt. Pete Halli, Patrolman Bill Gealey and Patrolman Ben Colosimo also all came to visit with the second- and third-graders.

Poff Principal Dr. Colleen Hannagan said the idea with the Lunch with Cops came from Good, who is Hampton school district’s new school resource officer this year.

“I love that the officers want to come in and make a connection with the kids, spend some time with them and really get to know them,” said Hannagan.

She said Good has some great ideas for getting officers into the buildings to help build a sense of community with the students.

The kids seemed to enjoy the event, including second-grader Charlie Baranzini who said he was “excited” to have the officers for lunch and hopes for their return.

The Hampton police department holds a variety of programs for students throughout the school district that helps create familiarity between students and local law enforcement, said Good.

Starting off with elementary, the police want to help teach these youngest students to employ thoughtful decision-making. He said it’s like the popular ‘stranger danger” protocol, where a child questions whether a situation or decision is safe or not.

Also, they teach about bus safety and the dangers of drugs and poisons at home and in the community, he said.

Police recently started reading to kindergarten classes, which helps familiarizing themselves with the students so they can be more approachable.

Good said it’s important to address bullying issues and social media with middle school students. This includes discussing school policies and laws in regard with being online, he said.

Vaping awareness is also a big discussion topic for middle and high school students, said Good.

High schoolers also get chance to attend several Allegheny County-related events that may help educate students on the criminal justice system, which helps introduce them to different careers in that field.

Good said they are also holding a mock jury murder trial for high school this month as well as discussing search and seizure processes; and what entails a felony traffic stop.

He said they also help arrange for students to attend Teen Driver Education Programs with Allegheny County, he said.