University of Delaware
Police dogs were a hit at The College School's Safety Day.

Teaching kids safety

Police officers and their animals visit The College School

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2:44 p.m., June 11, 2012--Panzer lay in the cool grass, as dozens of hands patted and stroked his black-brown fur. Trained as a patrol dog to seek out explosives, the three-year-old German shepherd was surprisingly unperturbed by the onslaught of love and attention from his young admirers.

On May 30, Panzer was joined by his partner, University of Delaware police officer Michael Crew, three police horses and a range of law enforcement officials for The College School’s (TCS) Safety Day. 

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Students enjoyed an afternoon of fun while learning important safety information from members of UD's Public Safety Community Resource Unit, the Delaware State Police, New Castle County Police and the Newark Police Department.

Seven safety stations, located in and around the school, allowed children to meet the officers, ask questions and explore various police vehicles including a helicopter, a police car, motorcycles and bicycles. 

"Having the opportunity to be in an real police car was the coolest. We never thought we would be able to push the siren buttons,” exclaimed a TCS fifth grader.

Marty McDonough, TCS liaison to UD, explained why the day was so special. "It's very meaningful to have the support of our friends in UD's Public Safety Department. Chief Ogden, Sgt. Ferrill and all the other officers proved how much they care about the students, teaching them life lessons on how to be safe and what to do in an emergency or uncomfortable situation. The Stranger Danger presentation was especially relevant.”

The highlight for the children was most assuredly the four-legged officers.  While eagerly petting Panzer and the horses (Commander, Darby and Mick) students asked some intriguing questions.

“I was explaining how Panzer is given the scent of a suspect and chases after him,” said Crew. “One boy asked what happens when the dog finds him – which is a good question.  I told him we give the suspect two chances to surrender.  If he ignores those warnings, Panzer is trained to bring him down.”

The students were amazed that he was capable of switching from a "normal" dog to a working police dog so easily.

Laurie Drumm, a teacher, summed up the event, "It was a great day. I was impressed with how the officers were able to connect with kids of all ages -- taking their explanations to levels that were appropriate for different ages as well as different interest levels."

The officers enjoyed it as well and are already planning the next program at TCS in the fall.

Article by Alison Burris

Photographs by Evan Krape

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