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DPD takes bite out of crime with McGruff remote car

The Press visited the Dickinson Police Department this week to sit down with Sgt. Brandon Stockie to talk about the department’s new education efforts with the addition of a McGruff remote control police car.

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McGruff the Crime Dog remote control car, pictured above, is the newest addition to the Dickinson Police Department for educational purposes. The remote control car will likely be present over the upcoming summer at events such as "First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights" concert series. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson Police Department is expanding its educational efforts for young children with two new additions to the Dickinson Public Safety Center: a McGruff the Crime Dog remote control car and a mascot costume.

With a $7,000 grant through the Southside Saloon and encouragement from the American Foundation of Wildlife, the DPD was able to use those funds to purchase the actively remote control car and dog mascot, Sgt. Brandon Stockie said. Funding for these educational tools also came from tobacco compliance checks over the past couple of years throughout the city of Dickinson, Stockie noted.

The remote control car — which has interactive features, such as a movable head and blinking eyes, sirens and voice-over abilities — is designed for children four to 10 years old, and teaches them different programs, such as “Stranger Danger,” bicycle safety and other important educational programs, Stockie said.

“(For one), it humanizes police officers and that we like to have fun too. I mean, who doesn’t like remote control cars? Kids love them, adults love them ... And plus for those younger kids that watch cartoons, (it) just gives (them) that animated portion to it,” Stockie said.

The McGruff remote control car and mascot are educational tools the department has been working to acquire for the past five years, Stockie continued. McGruff the Crime Dog is an anthropomorphic animated bloodhound created by Dancer Fitzgerald Sample Advertising Executive Jack Keil through the Ad Council and later, the National Crime Prevention Council, to raise crime awareness and personal safety across the nation.

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“It shows these kids that we’re not that scary authority figure. We are regular people like they are; it (allows) us to give positive messages to them and then, get that interaction with them. So later on in life, they’re not scared of us,” Stockie noted.

The Dickinson Police Department has continued to increase police education within the school district and has three school resource officers (SRO) within the schools. One full-time officer is stationed at Dickinson High School, while another is at Dickinson Middle School. Stockie is in charge of the SRO program and oversees all of the elementary public schools in the city.

Though the McGruff the Crime Dog remote control car has not been used yet in the public, Stockie said that it will be featured throughout the summer at events such as “First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights” concert series. Stockie believes that children across Dickinson will get a kick out of the new educational device.

“I think kids just like dogs; I think kids will like this new outlet we have for education. I think (not only) will they find it fun, we’ll find it fun, and I think this is a better way for them to learn,” Stockie added.

McGruff the Crime Dog mascot will make an appearance at “Skate with a Cop,” which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 27, at the West River Community Center.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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