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Lawrence Elementary School students visit the 4th Precinct in Hewlett

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Off the school bus they came, 40 third- and fifth-graders from Lawrence Elementary School marched into the 4th Precinct in Hewlett on March 11 delivering two boxes filled of goodies for the Nassau police officers.

The visit is part of the character education component of the curriculum that teaches students compassion and appreciation of others. The community helper care packages filled with chips, cookies, fruit and Gatorade were a thank you to the police for what they do in the community.

“Character education is part of our promising practice in school,” LES Assistant Principal Jacqueline Beckman said, just before the students and their chaperones — third grade teacher Rebecca McCabe, fifth grade bilingual teacher Gilynn Cromartie and reading specialist Shirley Warren — walked into the police precinct building.

As part of the promising practice, the theme for this school year is to build a better relationship with law reinforcement and in turn the students would develop the confidence to challenge the skepticism shown in some communities to not trust the police.

Nassau police officers Joseph Sgroi and John Zanni, both part of the Problem Oriented Policing unit, spoke to the children about the job of a police officer and the kids peppered the officers with questions.

“We are people too, just have a different job,” said Zanni, a 17-year veteran of NCPD. He explained why their uniforms — polo short and khaki pants and fewer items on the utility belt — are different from a majority of the officers the children see. “It’s called a ‘soft uniform”, Zanni said.

Sgroi, a 13-year veteran, told the students about looking for missing kids. “You know where we find everyone, in the house,” he said. “Have to let your parents know where you are.”

The officers also showed the children the holding cell area, where people who arrested are held until released or moved to another jail.

Five students appeared to have mined a few good lessons from their visit to the 4th Precinct. “I learned that police officers and detectives work together,” said Sophie Franzese. “We got to see a jail cell and it did not look comfortable.” “I learned that police officers help people and I want to be a police officer when I grow up,” said fellow third-grader Christopher Reyes Gramajo.

Adrian Ordenana Garcia said in Spanish: “Fue un paseo impresionante porque aprendí que si estoy perdido o en peligro, la policía siempre está aquí para ayudarme.” Translation: “It was an impressive field trip because I learned that if I am lost or in danger the police is always there to help me.”

Another fifth-grader Jostin Parrales Sevilla said: “Fue una experienca informativa porque aprendí que la policía lleva un distintivo con un número de identificación.” “It was an informative experience because I learned that all police officers wear a badge with an identification number.” “The trip was fun because I learned that if I’m in a bad situation, I should immediately call 911,” said classmate Keyla Martinez Zavala.