HAWTHORNE, NJ - The Police Department has launched a community outreach program aimed at resident children. Each of the public schools, plus Saint Anthony School and Hawthorne Christian Academy, have been given a framed picture with collectible cards showing the likeness of everyone in the Hawthorne Police Department, as well as Mayor Richard Goldberg, the borough's chief executive.
To better acquaint locals with their police officers, the cards have a picture of each member of the department and the backs of the cards offer a short biography. The hope is that the students will learn to see the police as regular, normal parts of their community rather than shy away from them.
Detective Joseph DiGeronimo said that the cards were part of a program for Hawthorne's fifth graders. "The challenge is that each kid would approach an officer to get a card. The idea is that they go when it is safe and practical; they may see them around town and ask for a card."
Detective Ian Spohn said, "In the past there was a similar program, about fourteen years ago." Now the Police Department has brought it back.
If a student collects all of the cards, and there are a total of 43, they could come to the station and claim a prize. The program is not exclusive to fifth graders, police say, but aimed at kids in general.
"The cards were sponsored by the Hawthorne Municipal Alliance," DiGeronimo told TAPinto Hawthorne.
Among the cards is Officer Nero, Hawthorne's K-9 Narcotics Detection police dog, and he is handled by Officer James Hayes.
"Officer Hayes does a K-9 walk-through in each school," Spohn said, "so fifth graders will have a leg up collecting that one."