A first-grade pupil received a special ride to West Parish Elementary School on Friday morning, thanks to her newfound friends at the Gloucester Police Department and her commitment to one of the department’s programs.
Lilly Muise, her mother Susannah Fulton, and two of Lilly’s friends got a lift in style to West Parish, riding in marked cruisers and getting a police motorcycle escort to boot following a ceremony at the Gloucester police station.
The ceremony and escort came in tribute to Lilly’s effort to collect the more than two dozen police trading cards officers have handed out through the school year as part of Gloucester police’s Kops ‘n’ Kids program. Each trading card features a photo of a different police officer, their name and a brief description of their career, personal hobbies and a message.
The West Parish first-grader was the only student across the city to collect all of the cards, said Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro, who coordinates the Kops ‘n’ Kids project.
Lilly and her entourage began the day with a ride to the police station, where they toured the station and the Gloucester District Court facilities upstairs, and sat in on the Police Department’s roll call for the day.
Nicastro said the event epitomized the idea behind Kops ‘n’ Kids, which is now in its fourth year and is based on officers visiting local schools and interacting with the students at lunch and during other parts of the day.
“Our goal is to be with the children in a low-stress environment, to show the children that police officers are their friends,” he said. “A lot of times, when children first interact with police, it’s in a stressful environment. But this program gets away from that.
“The kids in the schools really seem to enjoy themselves, and I’d say the officers who do this outreach enjoy themselves even more,” Nicastro added. “This program is a win-win for everybody, and this shows that.”
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or firstname.lastname@example.org.