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Badges and Books Program Inspires Reading, Relationships

Little learners at Evans Elementary enjoyed more than a good book when deputies from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office visited the school Oct. 6. Officers came onsite to read in classrooms with a goal of building trusting relationships with youth as part of the Badges and Books program.

Ashley McKinney, D49 sign language facilitator, interprets the story Deputy Korey Brown reads at Evans Elementary Oct. 6

“We love bringing this program to our school to place positive community role models in front of our students,” shared Emily Rubio, dean of students. “We want students to be able to ask questions and know who they can trust when they need help.”

Deputy Lora Robblee was one of the guest readers and currently serves in a community relations role to plan events and represent the sheriff’s office at community functions. “It’s about breaking down barriers between kids and law enforcement.”

Each classroom featured a different book, and after the story was read, students were invited to ask the deputies questions about their job.

“What weapon do you use the most?” asked one student. “Our brains,” said Deputy Korey Brown, who works as a reserve deputy. “We try to use our minds and training first to resolve an issue. Our minds are our most valuable tool.” After 25 years in the military, Brown volunteers often in the Badges and Books program as a way to continue serving his community.

The officers demonstrated their body cameras and showed students some of their gear, including different handcuffs. “Do you use your guns only for emergency?” asked one curious second-grader. “I only use my gun to protect my life or someone else’s,” said Deputy Robblee.

Badges and Books began in collaboration with local schools as a reading education and community interaction program. It is the only program of its kind in Southern Colorado, and each year El Paso County Officers have a goal to visit all 36 elementary schools in the county.

Deputy Lora Robblee from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office shows students her handcuffs at Evans Elementary Oct. 6. Deputy Lora Robblee shares the book, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” with students at Evans Elementary Oct. 6. Elizabeth Radwell, third-grader, pays attention to Deputy Lora Robblee as she shares a story at Evans Elementary Oct. 6.

Amy Matisek
amatisek@d49.org