- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - Get ready to start collecting and trading because the Paducah Police Department has teamed up with Head Start to bring back its once-loved officer baseball cards.

Discontinued about 12 years ago due to budget constraints, the new cards, paid for by Head Start as part its community partnership efforts, will be hitting the streets in the next few weeks.

Each officer will have a card with his or her picture and name on the front. On the back it will give their rank and division, how long they’ve been on the force and some personal information about the officer, such as where the officer is from, hobbies they enjoy or sports teams they like.

In the past, the baseball cards were used as a way to encourage the community to get to know PPD’s officers, said Gretchen Morgan, the department’s community resource officer. The cards gave people a reason to approach officers, chat with them and ask them for their cards.

That, said Kristy Lewis, director of Head Start for Paducah Public Schools, is what she hopes to encourage children to do when the new cards come out.

“We want our kids to know that it’s OK to go up to an officer and say hello and ask them for their cards,” Lewis said. “I think in doing that, kids will see that the officers are here to support them and help them.”

The cards will first be released in mid-October to Head Start kids who will each receive a starter pack with four cards - Police Chief Brandon Barnhill and the department’s three D.A.R.E. officers. After that, officers will start carrying their baseball cards while they’re out on the streets, and people are encouraged to approach them and ask for one.

“Everybody loves baseball cards,” Lewis said. “You know, when you think of baseball cards, as far as the kids are concerned, you think of the fun of collecting them and trading them. So that’s what my vision is with these baseball cards for the officers.”

By doing that, Lewis said she hopes children will learn that officers are more than just a badge or an authority figure. She hopes kids will see them as people who are just like them. Plus, Lewis added, if children feel comfortable approaching officers, they will be more likely to turn to them when they need help.

“This way we get to spotlight our officers and let the kids know that they are here to serve and protect you and to lend you a helping hand,” Lewis said. “You can go to them if you have a question, or if you’re lost or if you need help.”

Morgan said when the cards first came out years ago, people loved them.

“Adults and children loved these cards,” she said. “People would come up and ask for them all the time. It’s something that they can keep and have, and I think they enjoy that.”

Lewis said the cards also will serve to shine a spotlight on local officers as role models.

“Kids need positive role models that they can look up to,” she said. “There are so many role models that get put in the spotlight and then a year from now, their image may not be so positive. Police officers are role models that kids can look up to, and our officers are role models in the community.”

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Information from: The Paducah Sun, https://www.paducahsun.com


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