BAY MINETTE, Alabama — With the implementation this past year of the School Resource Officer program, in cooperation with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, the Bay Minette Police Department has worked hard to foster a positive relationship between students and law enforcement at Baldwin County High School and its feeder pattern schools.
But how do you maintain that positive relationship into the summer months?
For years, the Sheriff’s Department hosted a summer Shining Star camp at Baldwin County High School, but with the announcement that there wouldn’t be a camp this year in Bay Minette, Sgt. Kendrick Banks, SRO at BCHS, and other SROs in the BCHS feeder pattern got together to come up with a solution.
That solution was Cops & Kids, which was held this past week, June 26-28 at BCHS.
“All of these kids like the Shining Star camp, so we wanted to follow that as much as possible while maintaining the relationship with local law enforcement and city employees,” Banks said.
The camp is being conducted in conjunction with Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Learning Center. In addition to SROs and others with the BMPD and other first responders, approximately 60 campers learned from Bay Minette area educators and city employees.
Campers ranged in age from 6 to 14, Banks said, which is slightly younger than the Shining Star camp, which accepts campers between the ages of 8 and 14.
“We talked about it and decided to open up the camp to all elementary- and middle school-aged students in the Bay Minette area,” Banks said. “It is important for us to develop a positive relationship with these kids at as early an age as possible.”
Students from the BCHS National Honor Society and JROTC programs also participated in the camp, Banks said.
On Wednesday, campers got a visit from Smokey Bear, courtesy of the Alabama Forestry Service, and heard presentations from Mobile’s The Rose Center on human trafficking, along with a program on social media and making the right choices.
“Our classroom instruction was split up into two age groups,” Banks said, “with slightly different programs for each group. We wanted to be able to provide more mature information for the older group that might not necessarily be appropriate for the younger group.”
Thursday featured an outing to the North Baldwin Utilities sewage treatment plant to talk about the proper disposal of grease.
Campers were also visited by the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency and the BMPD Narcotic’s Division’s canine officer.
On Friday, the Baldwin County Correction’s Department brought in a restraint chair for a demonstration. Campers also learned how to make and read fingerprints.
Campers also enjoyed a fun afternoon at the Bay Minette Kid’s Park.
On Saturday, June 29, the police department welcomed the entire community to participate in a family fun day, with inflatables, games and a cookout.
Banks said while they are not sure if the Shining Star camp will return to Bay Minette in the future, they wanted to be ready to step in to fill the void.
“We want to keep this going as long as possible,” he said.