Fifth-grader Alexis Lavallee decided she may become a police officer after meeting Jesse, one of 12 horses assigned to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol unit.
“I’d more than love to work with her,” said Alexis, one of about 45 fourth and fifth graders who attended a week-long “Camp CP With A Deputy”, sponsored by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in June.
Jesse, a 20-year-old chestnut gelding, was a popular camp attraction.
Ritzey, part of the Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 unit, also was a go-to guest as Deputy Dale DeKorte allowed children to pet the dog, who is trained to sniff out accelerants and ignitable materials in arson investigations.
Public appearances at schools and community functions are also a large part of Ritzey’s schedule. “She loves it,” DeKorte said as campers cuddled and petted the accommodating canine.
Throughout the week, activities also included show-and-tell demonstrations from the department’s Dive Team and Tactical Team, both of which showed off their equipment. The emergency medical, motorcycle and marine division visited and, deputies took campers to Craig’s Cruisers.
Thanks to donations from the Rotary Club, Community Policing of Michigan and area businesses, each camper received a T-shirt, water bottle and midday meals.
Deputy Julie Brown, Comstock Park High School school resource officer, said they organized the camp in hopes of forging a bond with campers at an early age. This marked the first time the department hosted one for elementary school children, she said.
“We want them to see us as normal folks and we’re able to see them as normal kids,” she said. “Sometimes, we only see the naughty kids.”