Handing out coloring books to children is one way Oberlin police plan to build relationships while on the beat.
Chief Juan Torres said the idea started as a way to soothe kids present during domestic violence investigations and other difficult situations.
His goal was to help children see officers as friendly figures ready to help.
“It’s to leave a positive image to the children,” he said. “I think it will work.”
However, Torres’ officers believe coloring books should be given to children on any call and crayons should be offered as well.
“A Visit to the Police Station” is a 16-page coloring and activity book consisting of pictures of officers with children, motorcycle patrol, a helicopter, cruiser, and kids walking together for safety.
It also allows children to read about how to safely cross the road, how to call police, the importance of memorizing their address and phone number, and a reminder to always wear a seat belt.
“Education is an important key to your safety,” the book says. “Your local police department is a valuable resource for information.”
The book also has Oberlin’s non-emergency and emergency phone numbers and website information on the front.
“Police officers are always working day and night to keep you and your family safe,” the book says. “They are there when you need help or information, are lost, or in trouble.”
Interim city manager Sal Talarico said he thought handing out these books is a great idea for the department.
“This is to help encourage youngsters to feel comfortable with police officers and to be approachable,” he said. “It’ll help create a better relationship between officers and children.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Oberlin police are expected to start handing out coloring and activity books in March to children while responding to calls.