Local cops on the lookout for kids doing good

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By Brandi Makuski

Young bicyclists in Portage Co. should be aware—the cops are watching you.

Now in its third year back at the Stevens Point Police Dept., officers have begun their summertime “patrol” for young people on their bicycles, skateboards, and roller blades. When they observe positive riding behaviors, they’ll stop, and award the youngster a coupon for some free ice cream.

Also participating this year are Plover police and Portage Co. deputies, who will be passing out Dairy Queen and Culvers coupons, according to Plover Officer Seth Pionke.

“We still do bike rodeos with the kids at school, but this is just another way to have that positive contact with kids,” Pionke said.

“We want to give them a good impression of a police officer when they’re young before they really get to form an opinion of what they think the police are like from TV or the internet,” said Corp. Brian Brooks from SPPD. “We’re not always bad guys.”

Brooks said often, citizens experience police interaction only when something bad happens in their lives. The summertime contacts with kids, he said, is far more positive community interaction.

“But this also helps instill in the kids some good safety habits,” Brooks said. “When they’re on their bicycles, which is their primary mode of transportation, it’s easy for us to engage with them.”

The SPPD had a similar program several years ago; when patrol officers would pass out Milwaukee Brewer or Green Bay Packer players cards to youngsters during the summer. Brooks isn’t sure why the program stopped, but it was reinstalled in 2016 when the Stevens Point Police Officers Organization—the city police union—began donating funds for ice cream coupons.

Two local ice cream businesses match those dollars annually, he said, and this summer city police will have $800 in coupons from Carl D’s and Belts’ Soft Serve to award, as their time allows.

“It’s a good relationship to have with those businesses as well, so the program is just a win-win all around,” Brooks said.

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