Some of the local children got to try on the gear officers wear.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The blue lights started flashing, and a voice came over the cruiser's PA calling for backup.
And the three officers started laughing, as they stood outside of the vehicle. Because inside the vehicle, a group of city teens was having a good time.
In the back of the next cruiser in line, the police chief was showing another group of children a special set of handcuffs.
And all the while, sticky ice cream dripped down the hands of the more than 100 youth who came to the Common on Thursday.
The Police Department held its second annual Cones with a Cop program. Krispy Cone Ice Cream popped open its trailer and handed out free soft serve ice cream to children.
"It is an event that is done countrywide by law enforcement agencies as a way to bridge that gap between law enforcement and the city's youngest residents," said Officer Darren Derby, who organized the event. "It was an idea that the chief and I talked about, how do we get back out into the community?"
It wasn't just police on hand, though. The sheriff's department had its mounted horses for children to come up and pet. The Fire Department handed out hats and showed off a fire engine, teaching the children how to work the hoses and open hydrants, and County Ambulance piled the children into the back of its rig, showing them what they do.
"We wanted to open it up to public safety itself. The Fire Department was quick to jump on, so was the ambulance company and the sheriff's department with their horses. It allows the youth, the ones that we can help change and mold them to being a better citizen, to have that close up encounter with people they likely want to be," Derby said.
This is the second year the department has organized the event. Derby said it is just another way to show the area's youth that what they see of police officers on television, isn't what it is like in real life. The department wants to show the children positive interactions.
"There is nothing better than ice cream. What child doesn't love ice cream?" Derby said. "It gives us a way to sit down with them, have a one on one, to have laughs, have fun with them, and let them know that we're not always going to arrest people and that the things you see on TV are not what they should encounter every single day."
And the weather was great for hours on Thursday, with temperatures in the mid-70s and blue skies and sunshine, unlike the first year when it rained on the event. With smiles, ice cream, and nice weather, police are calling this year's operation a success.
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