Buddies with Badges: Covington Police Department Become Mentors to Elementary Students

Buddies with Badges: Covington Police Department Become Mentors to Elementary Students

Covington Police Officer Rachel White and Police Lt. Jennifer Rudolph Colemire doff their service caps while they sit chatting with two students at Glenn O. Swing Elementary School. The little group calls itself the Queen Squad, and they have tiaras to prove it.

Officer White and Lt. Rudolph Colemire are part of a new Covington Partners Mentoring Program group called Buddies with Badges. The police department already has a strong relationship with the school. Their annual activities have included Crafts with Cops as part of a service project to raise money to take disadvantaged children shopping at Christmas.

Officer White saw an email promoting mentoring in Covington and thought she could interest her co-workers as another way to be engaged with the community.

“The Covington Police Department is a part of the community,” she said. “It is important for us to be involved with the community in more than just the typical law enforcement manner. Mentoring can help us bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community by building meaningful relationships with the youth in Covington. It allows us to connect with the younger generation, guide them towards better life decisions and help them grow and strive. Plus, it's a lot of fun!”

The officers are enjoying the experience. “(It’s) been amazing so far!” Officer White said. “Every officer or employee that is involved loves it and has enjoyed getting to know the kids.”

Natalie Westkamp, who is Covington Partners’ mentoring coordinator for elementary schools, said she thinks Buddies with Badges gives students a chance to build positive relationships with officers and others at the department. It also provides a friendly environment to talk with the officers instead of just seeing them as first responders in a crisis or incident.

The mentoring groups decided to teach their new mentees the phonetic police code or police alphabet that is used to convey information. Each mentoring group will pick what it wants to be called. Office White and Lt. Rudolph Colemire’s students decided on the Queen Squad, while the group of male officers and students decided on Blue Crew (because blue is the favorite color of all mentors and mentees in the group).

“It was great being able to share part of the job with them and letting them choose the name they liked the most,” Officer White said.

Currently seven police department employees are participating in Buddies with Badges as a pilot at Glenn O. Swing Elementary, but Westkamp hopes to expand it to other schools in the future.

“I greatly appreciate Covington Partners for working with us on the creation of Buddies with Badges,” Officer White said. “I love being able to connect with the community, especially the kids, and have a positive impact on their lives. Protecting and serving the community means so much more than many people think and being able to mentor these kids is a wonderful opportunity for the department.”

Category: Mentoring
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