Bryan County Sheriff Mark Crowe said he was in uniform in a grocery store one day when he saw a mother point at his way and tell her son to behave or Crowe would get him.
That lesson that law enforcement were the bad guys hit home, Crowe said, and prompted him to come up with a way to humanize deputies for children and “let them get to know us on a different level.”
Cops, which in reality is a generator-run portable freezer filled with popsicles and towed by deputies such as Jennifer Fleming to various subdivisions in Bryan County for a summertime variation on firefighter Santa Runs, a local tradition during the Christmas holidays.
“It’s just something to give back to the community,” Crowe said. “It’s another way to try to bridge the gap between law enforcement and our youth. We’ll take it out on weekends, go in some of the neighborhoods and out to community pools, let them get to know us on a different level.”
Crowe, who is a father and grandfather, noted most kids see law enforcement officers at work, whether it’s directing traffic in school zones or working wrecks. Sometimes, those children see them during the worst moments of a child’s lives, such as if a parent or family member gets arrested.
“Some of the kids don’t get an opportunity to see us any other time than when it’s bad,” Crowe said. “But we’re fathers and mothers and grandfathers, and we’re living in this community just like they are.”
The sheriff said he wanted to start the program lat year, but didn’t have the opportunity.
So now BCSO will work with local homeowners associations to publicize when they’ll be in various neighborhoods, but the goal is to get it out there on the weekends and do what they can to bridge gaps between kids and cops.
“It’s just another way to be out there so they can see us other than during business hours,” Crowe said.