By Brandi Makuski
Every year, Police Officer Seth Pionke oversees several kid-related activities at schools in Plover.
Pionke is the village’s former community service officer. While those duties are now shared by several officers at PPD, Pionke still runs bike rodeos, talks about stranger danger, and brings in his K9 partner, Bill, to meet with local students.
He also oversees the department’s gun safety presentation given to fourth graders in the village, something done annually just before the school year ends.
Known to students as “Officer Seth”, Pionke relates to the kids by asking how famous people become so, pointing to several local sports fields named after well-known individuals in the community.
On such place is Schlutter Field in Woyak Community Sports Complex, named for 11-year-old village resident Adam Schlutter. The boy died in 1994 after being accidentally shot by his 10-year-old friend attempting to unload a gun found in a closet of the friend’s home.
On May 22 and 23, Pionke visited the classrooms of Aric Zondlo and Aaron Trinkner at Roosevelt Elementary.
“I don’t think we’ll ever stop doing this,” Pionke said of the gun safety presentation. “That just hit the community, and the department, really hard when [the shooting] happened. So this is our way of trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Pionke keeps the presentation fun and interactive, without getting politics involved. He showed the students a short video from Eddie Eagle showing cartoon characters encountering a handgun on the playground.
The video offers a catchy tune—it comes with dance steps, too—with four steps children should follow if they find a gun: stop, don’t touch, run away, tell a grownup.
“It’s a silly dance, but it works, the kids remember it,” he said.
About 15 students in the room raised their hands when Pionke asked how many planned to take hunter safety classes in the future, with about a dozen students indicating there was a gun in their home.
Of those, about half a dozen students indicated they had access to the gun.
“If you bring me a note from your mom or dad, I’ll make sure you get a gun lock for every gun you have tomorrow,” Pionke told the class. “Because we want you all to be safe.”