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The City Journals

Motor Cop, K9s Appear at Safety Assembly

Oct 07, 2016 01:55PM ● By Tori LaRue

Officer Andrew Hercules of the West Jordan Police Department rides a motorcycle into the Heartland Elementary School safety assembly. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Children cheered and gasped as a policeman rode a motorcycle, lights flashing, through a marked pathway in the Heartland Elementary School gym during a safety assembly on Sept. 15.

“The reason we teach safety in an assembly like this is because it engages the kids,” Sandy Riesgraf, Jordan School District’s director of communication, said. “They are not falling asleep, and it’s not just something where someone is just up there talking.”

The assembly included appearances from mascots, the West Jordan High School marching band, West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond and two K9s. Diamond taught the children about bus, pedestrian, bicycle, stranger and gun safety.

Each year, the district hosts a similar assembly in one elementary school to kick off the district’s safety message. District representatives selected Heartland Elementary, at 1451 W 7000 South, because of its proximity to traffic at 7000 South. 

“It is a high-traffic area,” Riesgraf said. “If there is any school we need a safety message at, it’s this school to remind them of all the safety measures that they need to practice every single day.” 

The marching band and its Jaguar Mascot, along with Heartland’s mascot, a Husky, kicked off the assembly with a music and dance presentation to get the kids engaged. Principal Shelly Davis introduced district representatives, including Superintendent Patrice Johnson and the district’s director of transportation Herb Jensen. Then Davis prepped the children for a safety video created by the district and promised students a special guest would arrive after the video to give them prizes for answering questions related to short clip.

The clip, which can be viewed on Jordan School District’s YouTube Channel, followed a student named Dallin who explains bus safety rules such as: stand at least five big steps away from a bus; keep your feet out of the aisle and in front of you; and know where to locate the bus radio and emergency brake in case of emergencies.

Most Heartland Elementary school students walk to school, but it’s still important for them to know basic safety precautions, Riesgraf said. All students will ride buses on field trips, and if they are unfamiliar with bus safety, there’s a greater risk of someone getting hurt. 

After the video, Officer Andrew Hercules slowly paraded through the room on a police motorcycle, followed by Diamond. Diamond quizzed the children on bus safety, and each student he called on gave the correct answer. He gave participating children sticker police badges. 

“He really helped us want to be safe because we realized it was very important,” Emily Reynaga, a sixth-grader who serves on the school’s safety patrol said. “Some people may think that safety is not fun, but you don’t want to get run over or be in danger.” 

Diamond gave the students basic safety tips. He said the students should try to walk in groups to and from school, look both ways before crossing the street, listen to crossing guards, ignore strangers who try to talk to them, lock their bikes up when they aren’t using them, ride on the right side of the road and leave any gun—a toy or a real gun—where it was found and go tell a trusted adult. 

Two K9s and their trainers ran into the center of the assembly after Diamond’s presentation. Duke, the dog from the West Jordan Police Department, demonstrated searching for a drug prototype on stage. Buck, the dog from the South Salt Lake Police Department, demonstrated how he can sniff out potential explosive threats. 

“I learned from the dogs being here for sure,” Ryan Vogelsberg, a sixth grade-spectator, said. “It made me interested, and I started thinking that we should be safe and not take risks or else we could end up hurt.” 

Johnson led the children in a safety pledge where students promised to “think about being safe all the time.” 

“It’s exciting to see these young kids that are just sponges and to be a positive influence for them to help them,” Diamond said. “The biggest accomplishment today was to see the smile on these kids’ faces when they can say and know and repeat what they learned.”