Roberts Elementary fourth-grader Jack Landrey gets finger-printed on Friday during “Operation Safety Day” as classmate Nate Keller looks on. Nearly 20 law enforcement agencies visited Roberts to teach the students about their day-to-day jobs and the equipment they use. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
SUWANEE — Nate Keller doesn’t believe he has a future career in law enforcement, but that didn’t keep him from enjoying a visit to his school from several local and federal agencies.
“I think it’s really cool,” the Roberts Elementary fourth-grader said. “Not many schools get to to this.”
In fact, only three schools per year receive a visit from agencies coordinated by the Atlanta chapter of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. Its president, Dominick Del Mastro, said he coordinates visits around metro Atlanta as a community outreach effort for “Operation Safety Day.”
“These are our greatest investments, our children,” Del Mastro said. “To show them not only other professions, but who’s out here everyday helping to keep everybody safe. They would probably never have a another chance to see this.”
At Roberts on Friday, students witnessed a fire department smoke house, which simulated what it’s like when a building is on fire, along with members from local and regional police departments, the Gwinnett County Police helicopter, a bomb squad, K-9 units, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and a regional mobile command unit from the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Level Creek Elementary held a similar event last school year, and a parent at that school suggested the event to the Roberts Parent Teacher Association, Principal Dion Jones said.
Along with safety tips, Secret Service employees produced a biographical document that contained a child’s photograph along with digitized, inkless fingerprints and other vital identification information. Jones said the document could be reproduced for law enforcement agencies if a student is lost or kidnapped.
“No. 1, they’re going to learn about safety, and what all these organizations do,” Jones said. “Hopefully the kids see what they do, what their purpose is … and in addition you’re talking about careers, kids are talking, ‘I want to go into law enforcement now.’”
One of the items the students could climb into was the mobile command unit, which responds to natural disasters and serves the Southeast except for Florida. The unit has a satellite camera, phone and Internet connections, along with a kitchen, bathroom, shower and room for cots. It’s located in Rockdale County, but was purchased in 2006 with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“It shows them a different side of things. This, hopefully, let’s them see a better side of us than they’d see on a day-to-day basis,” said Michael Camp of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.