By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Officer Maurice Crosby of the Clarksburg Police Department was pleasantly surprised by a gift he recently received when he visited children at North View Elementary, where they were participating in an Energy Express learning program, staffed by Americorps volunteers.
The 16 grade schoolers handmade an extra-large appreciation card for him and the entire Clarksburg Police Department. They had written “Thanks for Your Service” and had, along with their names, signed it with their colorful handprints. The children had also filled out the sentence “A police officer is…” with the positive adjectives of strong, polite, fair, honest, courageous, awesome and cool”.
Crosby said their gift really touched him. “I think it was really nice they took the time out to do that,” he stated. “It wasn’t just for me but for the whole department.”
When he returned to the department office, he placed the placard-like card in the squad room so all the officers could see how much the children appreciate them and the work they do.
“They (fellow officers) think it’s a real neat card,” Crosby said, grinning. “They’ve all seen it. We all appreciate it. We don’t get much stuff.”
Crosby said he first encountered many in that same group of children when he was on patrol a couple of weeks before visiting them at the day program at the school. They had been in a local park participating in a summer program sponsored by Harrison County Parks and Recreation.
“I was driving around that neighborhood and saw the kids at the park,” Crosby recounted. “I got out of the police car and asked the counselor on site if I could talk to the kids. It’s good to get out and talk to them and let them know police officers are good guys who are there to help them.”
Crosby said he gave the children pencils, bookmarks with anti-bullying messages printed on them, and some Clarksburg Police Department frisbees, which were a big hit with the kids.
He said the kids asked all kinds of questions, which he answered.
“They wanted to know what it means to be a police officer – what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Crosby reported. “And they asked about all the items on my belt. They were typical questions kids that age would ask, but they were good questions.”
After this positive park encounter with the children, Crosby said he told his chief about it. He OK’d another more official visit, so Crosby visited the school during an Energy Express program.
And he again answered all their police-related questions. “It’s good for the children to get to know us and to know we’re here for them – to help them,” Crosby said.
Jack Cann, recreation specialist with Harrison County Parks and Recreation that partners with Energy Express programs, stated that the organization appreciated Crosby and the Clarksburg Police Department giving to the children in such an important way: “It meant a lot to us for the children to meet and talk to a police officer.”
Debra Smith, Americorps volunteer with Energy Express who helped initiate and coordinate Crosby’s visit
during their week themed “Making My World a Better Place,” said he spoke to the children about many important issues. He gave them personal safety tips regarding reporting strangers to trusted adults, how they can help others in their communities by doing good deeds such as walking an elderly neighbor’s dog, picking up trash, and just being a good citizen.
“We really appreciated having Officer Crosby come to Energy Express to talk to the children and connecting them to their community by showing them how they can make a positive difference in the world and showing them they can trust the police,” Smith concluded.