By Andrea McCann
Fifth-graders at Lena Dunn Elementary School were treated to a demonstration by Daviess County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle officers Wednesday.
Along with a demonstration of their motorcycle-driving skills, Deputy Aaron Harbstreit and Lt. Detective Bill Dougherty talked about their jobs and training, and answered the youngsters’ questions. One topic Harbstreit touched on was the education needed to become a law enforcement officer.
“Education is very important in any line of work, including ours,” he said.
The presentation was the first of the school year for Project LEAD, Legal Education to Arrest Delinquency. Sponsored by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, the program brings speakers from law enforcement and legal careers into each of Daviess County’s grade schools once a month through May. It’s designed to prevent juvenile delinquency by educating youth about the law and helping them develop decision-making skills.
“It’s interesting,” said Lena Dunn fifth-grade teacher Susan Chambers. “I see in the beginning, from some of the children, fear of law enforcement and misunderstanding. Then, as they see these people and the things they do, it increases their understanding.
“I think it’s been a wonderful program. It’s brought so many community officials into the classroom that these students may never otherwise meet or see in a positive light. It’s a very positive program for these kids.”
One fifth-grader named Jacob enjoyed Wednesday’s motorcycle demonstration and was impressed with the motorcycles.
“It was cool,” he said enthusiastically. “They definitely had a lot of experience doing this because it was — indescribable.
“They were basic motorcycles equipped with lots of stuff.”
Project LEAD has been in place in Daviess County for five years, according to Economic and Community Development Associate Cindy Barber, who coordinates the speakers. During that time many speakers have been involved, including the mayor and prosecutor. Next month’s speaker will be a conservation officer, she said.
Objectives of Project LEAD are to demonstrate the need for laws and explore life in a lawful society; provide boundaries and expectations and to encourage development of positive standards, healthy beliefs, and positive social values; provide opportunities to interact with members of the law enforcement and legal systems in a nonthreatening environment, and to explore career alternatives; and strengthen decision-making, interpersonal communication, peer pressure resistance, and peaceful conflict resolution skills.
Barber said the program has been very effective. She explained the students take a quiz before and after the program, and results show their attitudes change dramatically in a positive direction. She said the speakers set good examples for the students and often inspire them.
“The speakers love to be invited back,” Barber said, adding they learn a lot from the students, as well.