Today I returned to Paradise Canyon to meet the 5th graders for the first time. After introducing myself, I talked to the 5th Grade about my life before becoming a deputy, my path to joining the Sheriff’s Department and the different assignments that I’ve worked. I described my experience in the academy, my first assignment working in the jail (along with some pictures), my time as a bailiff in a courthouse and the time I spent out on patrol in Malibu, Agoura, Calabasas and the San Fernando Valley. I also talked about my education at UCLA and my involvement with the LA Grizzlies (the LASD Football Team).
The kids had a ton of questions, like:
- “Is that a real gun?”
- “Have you ever been in a car chase?”
- “Do you have a taser?”
- “Have you ever had an inmate escape?”
- “What’s the food like in jail?”
- “Do you like donuts?”
I tried to get through as many questions as possible. This Q&A gives the kids a chance to get to know me, and it gets the “cop” questions about out of the way so we can better focus on a topic the next time I visit. Although, this particular group must have watched “The People vs OJ Simpson” over the summer, because I fielded about 15 Juice related questions between the four classes (which is well above average).
I also had a chance to talk about the origins of Red Ribbon week since the kids were wearing the Red Ribbon wristbands provided by the school. It all started back in the mid-80’s after DEA Agent Enrique Camarena was killed in the line of duty and his home town in southern California paid tribute to him by wearing red ribbons. The campaign gained momentum in California over the next few years and it eventually became part of the national drug awareness program. Schools across the country today still focus drug awareness campaigns around Red Ribbon Week, and it all goes back to the sacrifice of one cop trying to make his community better.
I also warned the kids to not think of drugs as good or bad. Drugs are just inanimate chemicals that affect our minds and bodies in a variety of ways. The good or bad comes from why a person chooses to use a drug. The laws and attitudes surrounding drugs are constantly changing, but every time a person uses a drug for any reason there is a risk involved. The only time a kid should be using a drug is with their parents knowledge and/or under the care of a doctor when necessary.