Fourth-graders get to adopt-a-cop


A wonderful fair for fourth-graders was saved from cancellation by quick thinking between the Hempstead Police Department and Beacon Mobility, which operates the Dell Bus Company in the village. 

The fair was the culminating event in Hempstead Village’s annual Adopt-a-Cop program, which has been supervised by Hempstead Detective Mark Russell for the past seven years.

This year, the event was scheduled for June 6. The planning and commitment attached to it are enormous. The children look forward to a demonstration of how crimes are staged and investigated by the Mobile Command Unit.

They clamber in and out of a fire truck. Nassau County Mounted Police Officers arrive on shining horses, and the children get to see a county police helicopter up close. They hear a band play, talk to Hempstead Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr., and the village trustees, and eat a special lunch.

“The kids adopt a cop for the year,” said Humberta Vasquez, secretary for the Juvenile Aid Bureau. “They get to know the cop, ask questions, interact, and then we celebrate by doing this event for them, so they can see what it’s all about.” 

“This has been a major program where students get to interact with their community helpers and make a great relationship with them,” said Dawn Lopez, a fourth-grade teacher at Barack Obama School, while her students besieged Truck Company 1 firefighter Jean Dupoux with questions.

“Sometimes there’s a negative stigma for police,” said Police Officer Marissa Bazzini, one of the cops adopted at Barack Obama School, “so it’s nice to have them look at you like a regular person and approach you. They never stop asking questions!”

Yet the celebration almost fell through. Rainy weather on June 6 forced the Hempstead Police to reschedule for June 13. And then the school bus schedule didn’t line up. 

With just a few days to arrange seven school buses, Russell reached out to Beacon Mobility. 

“We did a lot of emails back and forth,” Russell said, “and they were going to donate three buses, then charge us for four more. Then they got the funding approved and donated all seven!”  

“When we heard that this was going to get canceled,” said Paul Quinn Mori, director of client relations with Beacon Mobility, “I said, no way! If I had to drive the bus myself, I could do that.”

Finding buses on such short notice wasn’t easy. Buses are busy at the end of the school year. 

“Testing schedules and class trips are going on right now,” said Mori. “Erin Sharkey, my partner, pulled it off with the folks from the Elmont location [of Beacon Mobility].”

The collaboration was a natural outgrowth of a relationship that Beacon Mobility and the Hempstead Village government have nurtured for more than seven years. 

“I’ve got parents and grandparents of kids in the Hempstead schools system working for me,” said Mori. “Whatever we can do to help the community, if we can fit it in, we love doing it. These kids at the Adopt-a-Cop fair — this is the best thing in the world.”