The youngster cracked wise.
“Is Sgt. Joe Friday back there?”
No, for the record, he isn’t.
But nice try.
Fun — mixed with a lot of learning — was on the agenda last week when more than a dozen boys and their fathers got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Fullerton Police Department.
The boys and their dads are members of the Fullerton Family YMCA Adventure Guides program.
The April 21 tour was arranged by Judge Nick Thompson, who works out of the North Justice Center in Fullerton and who is active in the program with his son.
Judge Thompson and other fathers who are members of the HUYA Big Sky Expedition, part of the Fullerton Family YMCA Adventure Guides, thought it would be useful for the boys (and some of their sisters) to learn about law enforcement from the officers themselves.
Fullerton Police Sgt. John Ema and a few of his colleagues happily obliged, giving the group a K9 demonstration, letting them tour the BearCat SWAT vehicle, showing them where suspects are booked and processed before heading to the slammer, and taking them to the basement range to learn about firearms, “less lethal” weapons and Tasers.
“If you remember one thing from this tour,” Jailer Wayne Walker told the boys, who range from kindergartners to sixth-graders, “it’s that police officers are your friends and they’re here to protect you.”
Officer Jonathan Miller displayed to the dads and their boys — members of the Mighty Mojave “Circle” of the HUYA Big Sky Expedition — the impressive narcotics-detecting skills of Moeller, one of the FPD’s two K-9s.
Mueller, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, rapidly sniffed out the odor of marijuana on an item hidden in a bed of pungent jasmine.
“A lot of people believe police dogs are mean,” Miller said. “But this guy’s not mean at all. He wants attention and love all the time.”
In German, Miller commanded the cinnamon-hued Mueller to “search” for “poison.”
After the demonstration, one boy randomly tossed out: “I have two Yorkies at home!”
The boys and fathers then toured the North County Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) BearCat, an armored response and rescue vehicle that can withstand shots from an M-16 assault rifle and can blast out chemical agents like tear gas from the front.
“The (roof hatch) is cool,” Julian Stell, 4, said. He attended the FPD tour with his brother, Ethan, 8, and father Gary Stell Jr., Expedition Navigator of the HUYA Big Sky Expedition.
Walker, the jailer, showed the group where arrestees are padded down and where they get their mug shots snapped.
He also told the boys they never want to end up in jail.
The highlight of the tour appeared to be a 30-minute visit with Fullerton PD Range Master Dave Benedict, who showed the group various weapons officers use.
“All of our officers have to come down here every month and qualify,” Benedict explained.
“Most of our officers will never ever pull out their weapons (on duty).”
Benedict showed the group the standard-issue Glock .45 caliber service weapon and the M16-style shotgun every officer has in his or her patrol car.
He also showed them the “less lethal” 40mm sponge gun, which shoots out a sponge projectile at 365-feet per second.
The boys especially were fascinated with the Taser electroshock weapon.
“This is one of the best things ever invented (for law enforcement),” Benedict said. “This saves officers and suspects from really getting hurt.”
A Taser, he explained, shoots out two prongs attached to wires up to 25 feet that, for five seconds, emit 50,000 volts when they attach, temporarily immobilizing a suspect.
They are effective through up to an inch of clothing, Benedict said.
“Have you ever had to use a Taser on a kid?” one boy asked.
“No,” Benedict said. “We would never use them on children…Officers only use them when they are in immediate danger.”
One kid asked, “Can I try one of the guns out?”
“No,” Benedict quickly responded.
Then, to cap off the tour, Benedict put two pairs of fathers through a shooting simulator — a video game on steroids, as he put it — where the modified guns they used fire out lasers at suspects on the screen.
The FPD uses 40 to 50 scenarios to keep their officers’ shooting skills sharp.
The fathers walked away amazed at how difficult it was to make a split-second decision whether to shoot.
On their way out, the boys’ eyes widened when they passed a desk atop which sat a tub of Red Vines.
Surprisingly, they kept out of the candy — perhaps fearing being sent back to the jailer, Walker, to do some explaining.