From the beginning, Officer Erik Solter of the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Valley station in Reseda had the young visitors enthralled.
“Do you like the police?” he asked.
“Yeah!” came the enthusiastic reply from children seated in the roll-call room. The officer’s audience was several dozen first- and second-graders from Reseda’s Blythe Street School taking a special tour Friday of the police station and public library branch.
When Solter let them crawl around a police car--and even work the siren and loudspeaker--the children were completely hooked.
“That was cool!” said second-grader Abraham Gonzalez. “I liked all the sounds.”
Beyond the show-and-tell, Solter said, was a serious point.
“We want them to grow up and continue to have a good attitude toward the police,” he said. “As they get older and some of them see their older brothers and sisters get into trouble, they can get a different impression. But we want them to know that we’re here to help.”
Sandy Cervantes of Reseda, a teacher’s aide and parent, said residents around the West Valley station have made no secret of their distrust of police, especially in recent years.
“We have parents who won’t bring their kids to the library because it’s next door to the police station,” she said.
Second-grade teacher Ana Salcedo said that tension helped prompt the visit.
“This is a really good opportunity for the kids to be here in the police environment,” she said.