The City of Pennington Alabama is hosting its first annual Kid’s Safety Camp June 27-29. The camp’s mission is to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community through public relations and safety education in addition to preventing crime.  The program is the result of the detailed planning and the dedicated participation of the government and citizens of Pennington.

Pennington Police Chief Paul Johnson stated that he has researched and incorporated ideas from child safety programs of several other agencies. One of the camp goals is to change the community’s perception of law enforcement’s role within the community.  “We want to convey the message that our job involves more than locking people up and giving them traffic tickets,” Johnson said.

The program details the anatomy of a 911 call, what kids should do, and what they should expect in case of an emergency. Volunteers will explain radio room procedures and how to place an emergency call. “We want the kids to see the ‘big picture’ of an emergency, from the time the call is placed, to the time the emergency crews arrive,” Johnson said.

Another objective is to familiarize participants with the emergency personnel and their appearance as well as with the noises of the emergency equipment. Because some children are frightened by the turnout gear, facemasks, and oxygen tanks, each piece of equipment will be described, along with its purpose. The children will be allowed to try on the gear and participate in a “mock” emergency.

Rescue crews will demonstrate using the Jaws of Life on a car that was generously donated by Choctaw County Emergency Services. Also, the AirVac unit will explain their role in an emergency.

“We want children to have an idea of what sights and sounds to expect if they are ever involved an emergency situation. Children are already traumatized by accidents; unfamiliar sights and loud noise can be frightening to them, as well,” Johnson said.

In addition to fire and traffic safety procedures, the program will include bullying awareness, gun safety, and Internet safety. A trained engineer with the railway department will offer a presentation on railway safety.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children donated child safety kits for each individual.

Volunteer speakers will discuss various subjects, including meth education, the legal system, and juvenile crime.  “This has truly been a collaborative effort of the community as a whole,” Johnson said. “Since this is a new endeavor, we weren’t sure at first how the idea would be received,” Johnson said. “One of the main objectives is to unite the community with a common goal: protecting our children. The response from both the citizens and the agencies involved have been overwhelming. We only anticipated about fifteen or twenty kids to participate, and that number as grown to about fifty. ” Since Pennington is a small town, consisting of a population of 353 at the 2000 census, this amount participation is significant.

“We have received an unbelievable amount of support,” Johnson said.  “Our remarkable group of volunteers include teachers and personnel from government agencies, churches and local businesses.  One of our local businesses generously donated groceries. No fee required for participation, because we don’t want anyone to one left out due to lack of financial resources”.

“One of the unexpected, yet positive benefits is that it has united agencies that usually work ‘together, yet separately’,” he continued.  “Although police, fire crews and EMS work the same calls, they usually attend separate training classes and serve different roles in an emergency. The day camp has brought everyone together under the same umbrella outside of an emergency. We are working toward the same goal and it has improved our relations with one another, as well as the community.”

Where: Pennington Police Department, 282 Pine Grove Road, Pennington AL.

Dates: June 27-29.

Time: 10 A.M.- 2 P.M.

For more information, contact Teresia Cherry or Chief Paul Johnson  (205) 654-2688.

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