Tustin police read to local students

By Rebecca D'Auria

Tustin Police Department personnel read to second- and third-grade students at Beswick Elementary School to celebrate (an early) Read Across America day.

Read Across America is recognized annually as a national reading awareness holiday which falls on March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

Tustin Police Officer Mark Sauerwein reads “I Don’t Want to Be a Frog” to kids at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America. Behind him are Tustin Civilian Commander Katarina Thomas and Volunteer Wendy Meyers.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Tustin officers, who arrived in a group of 12 on Feb. 28, dispersed into different classrooms.

“Alright guys, let’s do this,” Lt. Manny Arzate said as he sat down with the kids. “What grade are you guys in?”

Shouts of “second grade” and “third grade” echoed off the classroom walls, which were decorated with alphabet letters, numbers, and hand-drawn book covers.

“That’s so cool, I have a daughter who is exactly your guys’ same age,” Arzate said. “So I know where you guys are coming from.”

Tustin Police Officer Mark Sauerwein, left, Civilian Commander Katarina Thomas, and volunteer Wendy Meyers visit Molly Murphy’s first- and second-grade combo class at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

After Arzate finished reading “Pete the Cat,” Chief Stu Greenburg sat down for his turn to read to the students.

“My name is Stu and I’m new to police department here, in fact, I just got here a couple months ago,” Greenburg said. “But I’m really excited to read you guys.”

Greenburg began reading, “This Is Not My Hat” by Jon Klassen.

Tustin Police Det. Colton Kirwan reads Dr. Seuss’ “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” to second-grade kids at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Among the books read, some of authors included Dr. Suess, Eric Litwin, and Karla Kuskin.

“I read a lot when I was a kid and I really enjoyed it,” Master Reserve Officer Dana Harper said. “I enjoy coming down here and seeing these little bright kids’ faces, it’s fun.”

The Tustin Police Department participates in Read Across America Day to not only encourage young children to read, but to also use the time as positive community outreach.

Tustin Police Officer Mark Sauerwein reads “I Don’t Want to Be a Frog” to kids at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“Tustin, where your school is, this is my community. So this is very special for me to come in and in to read to you guys,” Arzate told the kids during a question-and-answer session after reading. “And I want you guys to know that the police are here for your safety and there’s a police officer working 24 hours a day.”

Officer Colton Kirwan enjoys being able to provide a positive experience involving police officers.

“It’s a fun opportunity for us to reconnect with the community,” Kirwan said. “And this gives us an opportunity to let them see who police officers really are, because we are like them, we have families too.”

Tustin Police Officer Dana Harper reads a book called “This is Not My Hat” to kids at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Officers also gave some advice to the children:

“If you’re in second or third-grade right now and you want to be a police officer, I would recommend you read a lot of books,” Harper said. “Because when you read books, you learn stuff and you’ve got to know a lot of stuff to be a police officer.”

Before the officers left, Jodi Bullock, the second- and third-grade combo class teacher made sure to thank the officers.

“You guys are probably the bravest people I know, really, because every day you guys go out and do your thing and put your life on the line,” Bullock said. “I want to say thank you very much for protecting us, with that said, class, it’s time to get back to it.”

Tustin Police Lt. Manny Arzate, left, Officer Dana Harper, and Det. Colton Kirwan interact with Bonnie Heffner’s second grade class at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Tustin Police Det. Colton Kirwan reads Dr. Seuss’ “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” to second grade kids at Beswick Elementary for Read Across America.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

The Tustin Police Department comes to Beswick Elementary School in Tustin for Read Across America.
From left: Civilian Commander Katarina Thomas, Adriana Tokar, Capt. Robert Wright, Wendy Meyers, Lt. Manny Arzate, Megan Evans, Officer Mark Sauerwein, Det. Colton Kirwan, Officer Dana Harper, Joe Meyers and Cadet George Marin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge