Friday, August 21, 2015

Last of the Line: My Little Pony--and the Police!

This last of the American Girl doll wrap skirts that I've listed on my etsy shop is actually the first style that I made for Syd, based on her current absolute favorite cartoon: My Little Pony.

I've got a ton more American Girl doll patterns that I want to try out--pants, shirts, doctor's scrubs, a party dress--but I've also got some commissioned pieces and etsy orders that I need to be working on, so more American Girl doll crafting may need to go on the back burner for a bit.

In other news, I have to tell you about the AMAZING field trip that my Girl Scout troop went on yesterday! I was so engrossed in the trip that I didn't take a single photo, so you'll have to bear with my wall of words instead:

When we first got to the police station, the receptionist looked a little surprised to see this large gang of children and assorted adults in attendance, and we had to wait for a really long time before an officer came to get us--I imagine that the conversation in the back went something like "Oh, crap! who forgot to put a FIELD TRIP on the calendar?!? Okay, everyone, short straw has to lead the tour."

I was also a little leery when a parent who was dropping her kids off with me asked the officer, "How long do you think this will take?" and he answered, "Oh, about 15 or 20 minutes." At that point, I figured, "At least there's a playground behind the police station!" A twenty-minute tour followed by an hour on the playground--that could work, I guess.

I like to prep my Scouts well for our activities, so I'd asked each child to bring a notebook and pencil, and to write two questions for the police officers in that notebook. Our tour guide, Sgt. Forston, led us to the briefing room, sat us down, gave us a little lecture on what a briefing looks like, then said something like, "Okay, before I show you the rest of the station, does anybody have any questions?"

Little hands rose into the air! Sgt. Forston, in what is surely the greatest display of patience ever seen by humankind, answered question after question after question. Are you in charge? (No.) Who IS in charge? (The chief of police.) What kind of crimes are most common? (Theft.) What kind of things do people steal? (Money, bikes, electronics, really anything.) If someone stole a computer but it has a password on it, what would they do? (Throw it away.) Have you ever been shot at? (No.) Do you ever feel like you're in danger? (Yes.) Do people call you on the phone here? (Yes.) What do they call you about? (They want to report a crime, they're not happy with something a police officer has done, they have a question about a law.) Do they call other people on the phone here? (Yes.) Is 911 here? (No.) Where is 911? (At the central bus station.) Do people ever fight you? (Yes.) What happens if you think that someone committed a crime but you don't know for sure? (We keep looking for evidence.) Do they get to go free while you look? (It depends on what kind of evidence we have already.) Is there a police dog here? (Yes.) What's his name? (Ike.) What kind of dog is he? (German Shepherd.) Can we see him? (Maybe. I'll call his handler and ask.)

For each of these answers, also imagine a thoughtful explanation. Every time Sgt. Forston came to terminology that he thought that the children wouldn't understand, such as "bond" or "chain of command" or whatever, he would reword it so that the children understood. It was perfectly suited to an audience of children.

By the time this flurry of questions had calmed enough that we could keep moving, we were already well past the twenty-minute estimate of the entire trip, but Sgt. Forston seemed totally in the groove, and never hinted that we were taking up too much of his time or that it was time to finish up. In fact, he kept thinking of even more awesome things for us to see and do! We saw an interrogation room, where children and adults were both kind of thrilled to see the chain that attaches to a suspect's handcuffs. We saw the room with the breathalyzer and a line painted on the floor for people to walk; everything in these two rooms is videotaped. We saw the evidence lockers, which are actually just lockers! They are literally evidence lockers!

A guy came by as we were standing in front of the evidence technician's door, and Sgt. Forston was basically like, "Look! The evidence technician! Show the kids your light!" So after the technician put away all the evidence that he was bringing back from the lab (Sgt. Forston gave us an excellent lecture about this and a lecture and demonstration about how to properly handle evidence), he showed us how his black light showed up hairs and such from clothing and other surfaces.

Imagine, of course, that all through this children are just peppering Sgt. Forston with questions. Does each locker have its own key? (No, they all use the same key that the evidence technician has.) What goes in the little locked refrigerator? (Blood. Long pause. Just blood. Good editing for a child audience, Sgt. Forston!). What's in that jug? (Distilled water.) What's the distilled water for? (If you flush a syringe with it, you may get dried blood that you can then get DNA from.)

We covered DNA swabs and how to bag evidence, and then Sgt. Forston set the children up with plastic CD cases that he'd touched, fingerprint powder, and brushes, and he let the children actually dust for fingerprints! It was the coolest. Thing. EVER! He talked the kids through gently tapping the brush into the powder, and then just sort of gently swirling the brush along the surface. You still have to really look to be able to see the fingerprint, but if you hold it up to the light, there it is! It was so great, and the kids were really into it. I mean, of course! We also saw how to use a piece of tape to lift the fingerprint off the surface, although apparently it's preferred now to take a digital picture of the print, rather than lifting it.

We saw the undercover police officers' office and where the detectives work, the conference room where those in charge talk strategy, and then Sgt. Forston got ahold of the K-9 officer and found that although he was in the middle of a training session across town, he could leave then and be with us in 10-15 minutes. Sgt. Forston looked at me and asked how we should pass the time. "Tell the children all about first aid!" I said.

And so he did. Bless that man.

On the way outside to meet the police dog, I got the children's attention and said, "Now, Children, when the police dog shows up, I want you to..."

"Remain calm," many children finished for me. They know me so well!

Officer Keaton pulled up to the parking lot where we were, and he gave us a little lecture on police dogs and how and why they're used, and got to experience his own flurry of questions, himself. How old is Ike? (I don't remember the answer to this one--I'll have to ask my troop!) What happens to Ike when you go on vacation? (He goes to a special kennel in Indianapolis where they're used to police dogs.) Does he ever go inside the police station? (Not usually, because he's trained to defend Officer Ike, and could bite an officer who was just roughhousing with him.) Why isn't he neutered? (Because he's never out of his officer's supervision.) Do your kids get to play with him? (No, but sometimes they're allowed to pet his back.) We found out that Officer Keaton gives his dog, Ike, commands in German, we passed around his special remote control that shows him what the temperature is inside his car and has a panic button that he can press when he needs Ike to come rescue him. It opens the door on the right, which Ike only uses when he needs to chase down somebody.

We got to examine the special police car that Ike rides in, and then we sat in the grass while Officer Keaton showed us how Ike finds drugs. He'd hidden a little magnetic box inside the wheel well of a car, and as we watched, Ike sniffed all around, then sniffed back and forth in the same area over and over again, then got low and sniffed, and then finally scratched at the exact spot where the drugs were. As a reward, he got a tennis ball on a rope, and he was so happy!

At exactly two hours and 17 minutes after we first arrived at the police station, Sgt. Forston asked, "Anymore questions?" and for the first time, nobody raised their hands. I told him, "I don't think that ANYBODY has ever run them out of questions before!" And then we thanked the officers VERY wholeheartedly and all the children ran off to the playground.

Seriously, this was service WAY above and beyond the call of duty. Can you imagine the patience of someone who had originally intended to spend 20 minutes with a group of children, and then went on to indulge them for a full two hours, never hurrying them, never saying "Just one more question," going out of his way to find them interesting things to look at and do? It was one of the most impressive adult-child interactions that I have ever seen.

I know a certain couple of police officers who are going to get handmade thank-you letters and a big delivery of bagels and doughnuts sometime soon!

1 comment:

Tina said...

That is so incredibly amazing! That's it, if we end up in Ohio next (one of our possibilities) Emma and I are absolutely heading your way for a field trip or two.


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