Hundreds of Tustin elementary school students received a special escort on their walk to school on a recent Wednesday morning in an effort to promote health and safety.
The Tustin Police Department partnered with Peters Canyon Elementary School for the annual International Walk to School Day.
Tustin PD has participated in Walk to School for nearly a decade, rotating their attendance among the city’s 10 elementary schools.
The program was developed to advocate for the wellness benefits of walking to school and also reinforce important safety rules students and parents should be mindful of every day.
“This promotes safe routes to school for children walking, but also reminds drivers to slow down around school zones and watch out for little ones,” said Tustin Police Services Officer Megan Evans, who organized the event with fellow PSO, Adriana Tokar.
Parent Katie Head said she and her children have participated Walk to School for the last four years, and they were excited to see Tustin PD joining them.
“I think it’s great that the police are here,” she said. “It shows they really are a part of our community and involved in keeping us safe.”
More than a dozen police employees, from police chief to patrol cop, led hundreds of students with their parents to the campus.
Children were handed pencils and police badge stickers before settling on the playground blacktop to watch a Tustin PD K-9 demonstration.
K9 handler Rene Barraza introduced his four-legged partner, Bravo, and led the Belgian Malinois through a demonstration of basic commands.
He shared with the students Bravo’s role in helping the police department find suspects and narcotics while on patrol. Barraza also explained that, on Bravo’s time off, he is just like any other dog.
“A lot of people think police dogs are mean, but they are not mean,” Barraza told the children. “Bravo loves to chase rabbits. He’s never caught one, though.
“He’s found a lot of bad guys and a lot of drugs, but still can’t catch that rabbit.”
Tustin PD, in partnership with the Kiwanis Club, also donated several playground balls to the students before sending the kids off to their classrooms.
“If there is one thing that seems to just disappear from our campus, it’s playground balls,” said school principal Brooke Carreras. “We are so grateful and the kids will so enjoy it.”