LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – In an effort to put more officers in schools, the Lakewood Police Department is encouraging their teams on the streets to adopt an elementary school.
Officer Kennadee Bleak wants to be a familiar face for the kids at Westgate Elementary School.
“I want to know them personally and so they can say ‘Hey Kennadee’ in the hallway,” she said.
On Monday, she had her first introduction to some of the students.
“Some people have told me cops eat a lot of doughnuts, is that true?” one student asked.
“We do love our doughnuts,” Bleak laughed. “They’re easy to eat.”
The middle and high schools in Lakewood have a designated resource officer.
Agent Stacey Collis has spent years in those schools, but says staffing the elementary grades has never been an option.
“One of our sergeants came up with Adopt-A-School program, and it was a great program. It gets our patrol officers that work that area in to the schools; to build those relationships to talk to kids and to talk to parents,” Collis said.
Those connections have become more important than ever.
“Law enforcement in today’s society, it’s taken a bad rap,” said Collis.
“When an officer walks in, and in uniform, and we walk through the teachers’ lounge, everyone’s really on edge,” said Assistant Principal Johnny Horton.
SHARE YOUR STORY: Share A Together 4 Colorado Story Idea With CBS4
For years, Westgate has gone without a police presence, but Horton knows there is value in having Bleak around.
“We want that to be celebrated, when we see officers in uniform and we want kids to know the officers names and vice versa and to know that there are so many people working to support our students,” he said. “He said that’s the benefit for us.”
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.