Students team up with local police for child safety event

Student Hayley Knepper and Sandy Township Police Chief Kris Kruzelak fingerprint Brett Sullivan.

Administration of Justice student Hayley Knepper and Sandy Township Police Chief Kris Kruzelak fingerprint Brett Sullivan during the “Children’s Paw Prints with the Police” event.

Credit: Provided

DUBOIS, Pa. — Students in the Administration of Justice program at Penn State DuBois partnered with police on Nov. 19 in efforts to improve the safety of area children, as well as to foster a relationship between the community and police officers. Students joined Sandy Township Police at their station for the “Children’s Paw Prints with the Police” event.

They offered fingerprinting for children that parents are able to keep on record — in the event a child would ever go missing, fingerprints could aid in finding them, police say. Additionally, families were given the opportunity to see some of the equipment officers use on the job, including police cars.

Officers also talked to children and families about their desire to have open discussions and to work together with the public to keep their communities safe. 

“We want to build that relationship and trust in the community and let younger people know that we are here to help them. We want to be approachable,” said Sandy Township Police Chief Kris Kruzelak. He added that the department also hosts trick-or-treat events, and “Coffee with a Cop” as other ways to interact with the citizens they serve.

Lecturer of Administration of Justice Selena Price said her goals are similar to those of Kruzelak, which has led her to develop these programs in her classes. She said, “This is for my Criminal Justice in the Community class, and it requires students to pair up with law enforcement on a project that is meant to educate the community on the work law enforcement officers do.”

Students see the importance of that relationship very clearly. Junior Savannah Terwilliger, who plans to work in juvenile probation, said, “We just want to help people have a conversation with police and be comfortable and work with them. It’s about building a relationship.”

Senior Hayley Knepper, who aspires to be a state trooper or a prosecutor, added, “I hope this project sparks an interest in youth to join law enforcement or to look into careers in criminal justice.”