LITTLE EGG HARBOR – Local cops carried out an amazing sting that resulted in the apprehension of at least 200 young children.
“Operation Cops and Crayons” culminated in multiple citations for good behavior as kids enjoyed the opportunity to meet with officers from the Little Egg Harbor Police Department.
Authorities suitably equipped the children with crayons when they showed up in full force for the event held at the local branch of the Ocean County Library.
Youngsters proudly displayed stickers and police badges pinned to their clothes and became “badge buddies” for a couple of hours. The morning’s events served as yet another enforcement exercise for local cops and their involvement with the people they serve.
Little Egg Harbor Police Sgt. Sean Crotty provided the scoop on the event that had a similar feel to a popular summertime favorite among other departments called “Cones with Cops.”
“My wife Danielle used to teach in Camden County and told me they did the ‘Cops with Crayons’ program there,” Crotty said. “She knew we were looking for something that involved community relations and could be done inside.” She is now a staff member at the Frog Pond Elementary School.
The Little Egg Harbor Police Junior Recruits and Citizens on Patrol neighbor watch group both give civilians the opportunity to assist in select tasks. Both were on hand as backup for last weekend’s sting.
The Ocean County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene with important community services. Two county officers set up a height chart and created a sweeter version of mug shots for child identification cards. The cards are considered useful in emergency situations.
If those in attendance were to select the most exemplary officer, one suspect clearly would have made it out of the lineup. No doubt one of the best parts of the morning was the opportunity for children to “frisk” K-9 Officer Hook.
Hook’s handler, Brian Smith led her through some training exercises after providing some background information. Hook is a four-year-old German shepherd who came to the United States from the Czech Republic. She responds to commands in both English and German.
Smith tailored his presentation to his audience, a group of children primarily under 10 years old.
“If you were to run away from home and Mommy and Daddy didn’t know where you were,” said Smith. “Mommy and Daddy would grab me and I’ll bring my dog out.”
“I’m going to grab your favorite toy, your pillowcase, your hat, something that has a lot of smell on it,” Smith continued. “I’m going to put it right up to her nose and she’s going to put her nose to the ground, and through the woods, through the parking lot, and down the fields. She’s going to find you.”
Children stood fascinated as Smith tossed out an item and Hook went in search of it. Among other things, Smith showed the group how Hook would ultimately grab onto a suspect upon command. The demonstration required Smith to don a hard sleeve over his arm so the K-9’s teeth didn’t injure the trainer.
Ocean County Commissioner Bobbi Jo Crea, who was served as Little Egg Harbor’s mayor, said she came to the event to see the children. Township Committeeman Kenneth Laney was also there on behalf of the local government.
Little Egg Harbor Walmart and Dollar General donated the crayons and coloring books for the children who had a great encounter with local officers. Snacks were provided by the Little Egg Harbor Municipal Alliance Committee.