Police dogs, a bomb squad and rows of patrol vehicles and SWAT gadgets aren’t the usual second grade curriculum, but thanks to a unique program second graders got to see the world of police officers up close at the Kids Adopt a Cop picnic. The purpose of the popular outing is to help elementary students become interested in public service and have a positive experience with law enforcement.
For Lincolnton-Lincoln County police, the event is a welcome outreach into the community. “It’s an opportunity to let the kids get to know us a little better,and lets them see the other side of law enforcement, that we’re also moms and dads”, said Lincolnton Police Lieutenant Matt Painter.
For North Brook Elementary School students and good friends, Tristan Simons, 7, and Will Stover, 8, both have their hearts set on enforcing the law when they get older.
“I want to be a cop so I can stop people from stealing stuff,” Stover said.
Koragan Hullette, 8, also from North Brook, was most excited about touring the patrol vehicles displayed at the picnic at Betty G. Ross Park in Lincolnton.
“I enjoyed seeing the cop cars and the flashing lights,” she said.
More than 1,500 students, teachers, parents, police officers, firefighters, first-responders and other event volunteers swarmed the city property to carry out what may be the final Adopt-A-Cop celebration.
According to Lincolnton Police Sergeant, Willie Vaughn, whose 8-year-old son, Lucas, was on-hand Wednesday with Battleground Elementary, the event may not take place next year.
“I’m sad it’s the last one,” he said. “It’s very useful, and the kids enjoy it and the cops enjoy it,” he said.
When asked about the picnic’s future, Sheriff David Carpenter, whose agency funds a large portion of the annual educational event, said plans regarding keeping or doing away with Adopt-A-Cop have yet to be determined.
“It has been discussed,” he said, “but no final decision has been made.”
Painter noted it costs between $6,000 and $7,000 to put on the picnic, not including the cost of T-shirts — typically around $10,000.
“It’ll all come down to budgeting,” Police Chief Rodney Jordan said, “but I hope it goes on forever.”