Behind the badge with the Prairie du Chien police chief
By Correne Martin
For any elementary student, the chance to eat lunch with the police chief is quite the experience. It’s an educational and memorable moment, in which a child gets to meet the man behind the badge, with his guard down and his lead vest off.
Last week, five boys in kindergarten at Prairie du Chien’s B.A. Kennedy were afforded this exclusive opportunity. They included Ashton Landt, Portor Kossman, Tegan DuCharme, Westin Marx and Nathan Helgerson.
Prairie du Chien Police Chief Chad Abram has visited the school once a month since last fall for his Lunch with the Chief program, which is new this year. As part of the program, five students spend one hour sitting in a front office room, enjoying their lunch alongside the chief. Each month, students from one grade level, kindergarten through fourth grade, are nominated by their teachers for the up-close, casual time with Chief Abram. The grades rotate month to month.
According to Abram, who has modeled the program after other communities’ examples, the goals are for the children to overcome fears of authorities, review positive behavior, and understand the importance of police officers’ presence in the community.
It’s a way for us to continue to develop an understanding that a police officer’s job is to keep people safe and that they’re here to help us, so we shouldn’t be afraid,” B.A. Kennedy Principal Laura Stuckey said. “[The program] is for students whose behavior is excellent as well as those students who may need a positive male role model.” On Monday, April 28, during the kindergarten session, Chief Abram introduced himself and talked about why he was there. Then, he opened the room up to questions from the five boys—who were clearly quiet at first. Once one brave boy opened the conversation, the innocent interrogation began. The students wondered and discussed many topics, including:
•What Chief Abram’s job duties involve (more than just taking bad people to jail)
•When and how an officer sleeps during the day after working the night shift (he shuts the curtains)
•Where the police station is located (on Beaumont Rd.)
•How the chief keeps his officers in line (very carefully)
•What his favorite sports team is (Vikings)
•When to call 911 (only in an emergency)
•What Abram wanted to be when he was their age (teacher or police officer)
•If he could take his handgun out of its case (of course not)
At the end of their lunch, Abram left the students with this thought: “Police officers are your friends. We’re here to help you.”