Dads partner with police and fire on Walk to School Day

By Tony Dodero

Wednesday was “Tortoise and the Roadrunner Walk to School Day” at Laguna Road Elementary School.

A dozen or so men, known affectionately as “The Dad Squad,” wore yellow safety vests to help shepherd 680 school kids to class in a safe and orderly fashion.

I was one of them.

My son, Nathan, is a sixth-grade Roadrunner, which is Laguna Road’s mascot.

Sadly, Nathan wasn’t too impressed that his father was attempting to direct traffic on this busy day.

But Nathan – and his friends – practically cheered when some men and women who wear uniforms to work every day rolled up in vehicles with sirens on them.

Fullerton police officers and firefighters joined other city and school officials in greeting kids as they arrived to school as part of a national effort to make walking to school safer.

The kids got an up close look at a Fullerton police vehicles and a Fullerton Fire engine.

The Walk to School events are designed to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment and building connections between families, schools and the broader community.

little girl

For the police department, it was yet another opportunity to build relationships and engage with families when they aren’t busy responding to or investigating a crime.

Community engagement is a priority for the police department, which is having an Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 25. Indeed, on the first day of school, officers showed up at most schools to greet families, answer questions and assist with traffic control. Chief Dan Hughes also recently began meeting with his community advisory board. The more the community participates as a partner in the fight against crime, the safer Fullerton will be.

Those of us on the Dad Squad appreciated their presence and quickly realized how challenging it can be to direct traffic and manage crowds.

The whole event gave us a greater appreciation for the officers who regularly handle crowd control and traffic flow.

“It was just a wonderful, community-spirited activity,” Laguna Road Principal Harold Sullivan said. “You could see that all of the kids were having a wonderful time as their teachers led them to school. I was blown away by the creativity of the classes’ unique costumes and props.”