Hi Readers! Friday night I was on CNN with Rick Sanchez, talking about how Take Our Kids to the Park & Leave Them There Day went. (Just fine, thanks!) The affable anchor then lamented the fact that he and his family live in a lovely suburb of Atlanta, but the playgrounds are always EMPTY. And then — he had a great idea of how to fill them again.
Put a cop in the park! (“Ah, but what if the cop is a kidnapper?” asked my smart aleck 12-year-old who is getting used to the way most Americans think.)
Anyway, the point is: This is an idea that is doable and doesn’t seem to have a downside. Towns have cops and cops are supposed to be outside, on the beat, getting to know the community. Put a cop at the local playground from, say, 3 to 7 on weekdays (more hours on weekends) and it’s like sprinkling a parched field. Suddenly, it blooms anew! Parents are no longer scared to let their kids go to the park. The kids who go, run into other kids. The kids start to play together, they get exercise, they make up games, they create community and the cop is making the neighborhood family-friendly again.
“It’s just like the old days, when we had parkies!” said Curtis Sliwa, when I mentioned the idea on his radio show yesterday. Before my time, apparently, the New York City Parks Department used to have an adult or two in each park to watch the kids, lend out equipment, maybe even start a game of this or that. If parks can’t afford parkies anymore, maybe the police department can afford, well, coppies, since it is in everyone’s interest to make the streets and playgrounds safe, and that’s what a local cop can do.
So: What do you think of this idea? Especially if you happen to be in law enforcement, I’d like to know if it makes as much sense to you as it does to me! And if it does make sense — let’s figure out how to make it happen! — Lenore