The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department was out in full force Wednesday night — not just keeping the streets safe, but sharing laughs with students at Placerville’s Indian Creek Elementary School.
Sheriff John D’Agostini, along with numerous members of his department, attended the school’s Family Sheriff’s Night to educate students on law enforcement’s role in the community.
The event, attended by several dozen students and family members, marked the official return of Safety Pup, whose program had been dormant for more than a decade because of budgetary concerns.
Wednesday night’s Indian Creek gathering further familiarized the community with department personnel, a big point of emphasis for D’Agostini during the campaign.
“A lot of this is the sheriff’s philosophy of getting the community in-tune with the Sheriff’s Department and the Sheriff’s Department in tune with the community,” said Sgt. Jeff Sesak, who was on hand to answer student questions. “We want the community to understand we’re approachable.”
A slew of Sheriff’s Team of Active Retirees members was also present to help fingerprint the children in attendance.
“If the kids are missing or lost, we now have their identification on record,” said Sesak.
Deputy Dan Johnson, one of the department’s K-9 handlers, brought his furry partner Troy along to demonstrate the dog’s skills, much to the delight of the wide-eyed youths.
The kids were then given the opportunity for a face-to-snout meeting with the canine.
Children also received department literature, stick-on badges and gel wrist bands, courtesy of their local deputies.
And of course, Safety Pup proved to be a crowd favorite, although the occasional student would tug on the Pup’s ear or cape — all in good fun.
For Sheriff D’Agostini, the night went off without a hitch.
“Tonight is all about the interaction of the kids with the deputies, the parents with the deputies,” he said. “I think it was a big success.”
And while the students spent the evening grinning from ear-to-ear, D’Agostini said his deputies were equally excited to be there.
“They really step up,” he said. “They want to do this.”
Teresa Schoener, Indian Creek Elementary PTA member, said the night was a valuable experience for all who attended.
Schoener hoped the school would host similar events on an annual basis.
“It gives us a chance for students to interact with local law enforcement,” she explained. “It gives parents a chance to get their children fingerprinted. It was beneficial for everyone to get together.”
It goes without saying, but Schoener, like the students who romped and cavorted in the multipurpose room, was all smiles after Family Sheriff’s Night.
“I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” she said. “The Sheriff’s Department was awesome. They were excited to come out. It was great.”
The Safety Pup program is sponsored by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with the National Child Safety Council. The program aims to remind children of the importance of safety in their daily lives.
For more information on the program or to schedule a Safety Pup appearance at a school function, contact community service officer Stacie Walls at 530-621-6640.
E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5069.