Wonky Donkeys and the police chief visits kindergarten

WORTHINGTON - Snoring sounds, the hee-haw of many donkeys and lots of giggles were heard last week when Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel visited three kindergarten classrooms at Prairie Elementary School last week.

Snoring and giggling may not be the usual response to meeting the police chief, but when he brings books and reads to the kids, he asks for a little help.

Blue in the Schools is a program that has police officers visiting the students for everyday things and educating them on basic law enforcement knowledge, while getting them used to being in the presence of a police officer.

Recently, many of the Worthington PD officers served lunch to the students, and Appel has been making a point to visit every kindergarten classroom in his jurisdiction. He reads a book about a snoring bear, a Wonky Donkey and one that has no pictures - just lots of silly sounds. But he also takes the time to talk to the little ones about law enforcement.

"What should you do if you see a police officer," he asked the students in Mrs. Standafer's class. One little guy had the answer immediately.

"Smile and wave!" the boy said.

Appel told the kids that the very first police were medieval knights who carried their shield in a way that protected their heart. He pointed out his badge, also known as a shield, and told them that is why officers wear it on the left, over their heart.

Appel gave the kids a quick reminder about using 911 in case of emergency, and showed them a picture of the dispatchers. He talked about how the dispatchers might ask them questions about their name or address if there was an emergency.

He showed them pictures of what he calls "the furry officers" from the K-9 program - Winston, Frankee and Mac - and shared a special secret about Mac.

"He likes to be scratched right here," Appel said, pointing to behind his ear.

He also showed them his radio, his computer and his handcuffs.

"How do you get the handcuffs off?" one students asked.

"We have fancy keys," Appel answered.

He also showed them a picture of an undercover officer with long hair and a shaggy beard. None of them believed it was actually Appel back in his undercover days, but they did think it was funny.

Before leaving each classroom, Appel left behind a stack of books so each student could bring one home, then handed each student a magic pencil and a sticker badge. They promptly did their kindergarten best to put the shield on their left side, over their hearts.

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