San Diego

Hundreds of Children Bond With Police Officers and Firefighters at Event in City Heights

The "Police Day" event aims to strengthen the community's bond with first responders

Hundreds of children were all smiles as they learned about what police and firefighters do to keep the city safe at an educational event in City Heights Thursday.

The event was planned through the United Way of San Diego County and the city to help build a connection between first responders and the community.

About 300 children enrolled in the United Way "Readers in the Heights" program participated. 

A police chopper swirled across the sky, above Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.

Sirens from emergency vehicles were activated for the children to hear.

The kids got a chance to climb on a fire truck and meet with the firefighters and San Diego police officers.

One SDPD officer, Laura Smith, who helped plan the event, said she hopes the children were able to see the officers in a different light.

"I hope that they just enjoy that time, and they get to build that bond with the officers that are honestly serving their community," said Smith. "And all of us, we just enjoy getting to help them and building a good relationship versus something that’s negative."

Officers also let the kids hop in the back of a patrol car. The children giggled as they quickly learned there are no handles on the inside of the doors. The other children rushed to open the doors from the outside.

While this unfolded, one SDPD officer said, "Oh your friends helped you escape. Look at that!"

This marked the second "Police Day" event held by the program. The event has grown from only 50 kids last year to hundreds this year. Organizers hope to plan another event like this next year.

Some of the children come from low-income families. Others may need additional support in school. After the event, some of the kids said they'd like to become police officers or firefighters when they grow up.

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