The Amelia Village Police Department has been called to the Amelia Elementary almost weekly over the last four weeks but no one was in trouble and no arrests were made. Officer Keith Mahan has been having lunch with Amelia Elementary students.
Amelia Elementary Principal Stephanie Walker said she wanted her students to see police officers in a positive light and to teach the students to trust and respect police, so she invited the Amelia officers to lunch.
“A lot of kids have negative interactions in their home or neighborhood and their interpretation could be that police officers are bad,” Walker said. “I decided to bring somebody in so the the students could see a police officer as a positive role model.”
"I like this interaction, hanging out with (the students) and learning about their lives," Mahan said.
Mahan said he tries to visit the school once or twice a week depending on what is happening in the village that week. He walks around the lunch room stopping to open a juice bottle or Lunchable and talk to the students. He said he spent one afternoon handing out silverware to students who forgot to grab theirs when they went through the line. After four weeks he has already learned a lot of the students' names.
Fourth grader Noah Mitchell said Officer Mahan was unlike any other officer he has met.
"Most police officers are big and scary but he's really nice," Mitchell said. "He makes us feel safe and comfortable."
Mitchell said Officer Mahan talks to the students about saying no to drugs and staying away from strangers' cars. Mitchell's fellow fourth grader John Meyer said it is a little strange to have an officer in the lunch room but he still wants to talk to Mahan.
"He's actually eating with us and I want to take advantage of it," Meyer said. "I feel comfortable enough to talk to him. I want to learn about cop stuff."
Third grader Natali Rosario said Officer Mahan makes her a little nervous, but she is glad to see him each week.
"I've never seen a police officer up close," Rosario said. "It's very neat."
Mahan said the students are fascinated with his Taser, which they can see hanging from his belt. He jokes with some of the students as they give him high fives on the way to their tables.
Meyer and Mitchell both said they would feel comfortable talking to Officer Mahan if they were having some problem at home or school. Katlean Grubbs, a third grader, said she has not gotten to speak to the officer yet.
"I'm looking forward to talking to him," Grubbs said. "It's pretty cool because I've never got to talk to a real police officer."
She said the students are glad to have the officer close by in case of an emergency.
"We feel safer at lunch so if somebody gets hurt he's right here," Grubbs said. "If I have a problem I can talk to him."
Walker said she is glad to see the connections between the students and Officer Mahan, but she is also excited about the relationship being forged between the school and the local police.
"I want us to be able to have a positive working relationship with the village police," Walker said. "It's great to know that if something were to ever happen they would be here in a heartbeat."
Mahan said he enjoys his time at the school and the students seem to enjoy it as well.
"It's important for them to have positive contact with the police and the younger they get that positive interaction the more they feel they can trust us," Mahan said.