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Camp Cullom busy with Cops and Kids

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SOBRIETY TEST: During the Cops and Kids day at Camp Cullom Thursday, Rossville fifth-grader Jacob Moss attempts a field sobriety test. Each child wore goggles that simulated their being drunk. Jacob’s mom, Anne, left, a chaperone for the field trip, advises her son to never be in that situation for real.
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DRUNK: During the Cops and Kids day at Camp Cullom Thursday, a fifth-grade student leans and weaves his way through a drunk-driving simulation. The goggles he wore created the same effect as if he had a BAC of .08.
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SWAT: During the Cops and Kids day at Camp Cullom Thursday, Rossville Town Marshal Travis Harris shows local fifth-graders the types of equipment used by the county’s SWAT team.

BY SHARON BARDONNER - sbardonner@ftimes.com

Clinton County fifth-graders moved from station to station Thursday at Camp Cullom to participate in the annual Cops and Kids program organized by the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and the Frankfort Police Department.

The event was designed to give the participants an idea of what law enforcement officers do every day and to introduce the kids to officers through a series of fun, interesting and positive interactions.

Each group, which consisted of kids, teachers and chaperones, went through a series of activities that got the kids moving, involved them in problem solving, made them aware of different laws and engaged them with interesting show-and-tell items, such as the equipment used by the local SWAT team.

The station closest to Camp Cullom’s entrance on West County Road 200 North was led by Deputy Dennis Tillman, described by CCSO Chief Deputy Joe Mink as the D.I. – the Drill Instructor.

Tillman had perfected his role, barking out orders to his troops of fifth-graders who were given maps and instructed on how to read them.

“You have to orient yourselves to these points,” he told them. Tillman also cautioned that along the route they would be confronted with different challenges. 

While giving instructions, Tillman also would shout: “Push-up Position! Everybody in the Push-up Position!” At that point, Tillman himself was the first person who dropped to the ground while everyone hit the deck around him.

Tillman spoke to the kids at one volume – loud – while sprinting along alerting them to different incidents.

“They’re shooting at us! They’re shooting at us!” he shouted as part of the role-play while running full speed through the roped off area. 

At another station, led by FPD Officer Josh Danner, the kids were broke into two groups, given goggles to wear and instructed to walk a straight line as a driver would do for a field sobriety test. According to Danner, the goggles simulated what it would be like taking the test if drunk. 

Danner asked the kids firmly, raising the volume each time: “How old do you have to be to drink in the state of Indiana legally?”

Each time they answered, “21,” with their voices rising as well.

As Jacob Moss, of Rossville, donned the goggle and began weaving down the orange line, a chaperone directed, “Just so you know, if you are ever in this situation, your mom will kill you.”

The chaperone was his mom, Anne Moss.

“We can be in jail together, because I would kill him,” she said. After thinking briefly about what she just said, she quipped, “I guess I’d be in jail alone if I did that.”

Although the sobriety test was eye-opening, the SWAT team members readily boasted that year after year their station was always the most popular. 

Rossville Town Marshal Travis Harris was one of the presenters, showing kids equipment like a 50-caliber gun capable of stopping a semi. 

“We can shoot the engine and with these heavy weapons can penetrate it,” he said.

But as each group of kids listened and watched in fascination, the different SWAT presenters reminded them that the goal of SWAT was to resolve situations peacefully, and to save people without anyone getting hurt.

Chris Miller, a fifth-grade teacher at Rossville, agreed that SWAT was certainly a big draw.

“SWAT is always something they talk about,” he said. “But this teaches them that there are a lot of different aspects to law enforcement. It also shows the kids what these officers roles are in the community day to day, such as their cars and the different equipment they carry.”