CLARK COUNTY — A police helicopter wowed 7-year-old Josiah Spicer on Wednesday as he participated in an annual event centered around law enforcement officers.
"The helicopter when it landed, that was just absolutely amazing," said, Josiah, 11, who attended the Clark County Sheriff's Office Heroes Camp with his brother, Kyle. "All this stuff that police do and how they do it, I just think that's really cool."
That's exactly the aim of the event, which is held at the Clark County Fairgrounds, where more than 70 elementary kids have been getting hands-on learning this week about police equipment and vehicles, seeing how K9 units work and getting a lot of important questions answered.
Clark County Sheriff's Office Col. Scottie Maples said the camp is a way for the kids to not only learn how the department works, but get a positive experience with police, which officers hope will last a lifetime. Sheriff Jamey Noel has made community policing a priority during his administration.
"Studies and surveys show that the more you interact in a kid's life early as a police officer, the less scared they are to approach you in life if there is a problem," Maples said.
"I hope it gets ingrained in the kids' heads that we're here to help."
Between the excitement of watching the medical helicopter land, seeing how police dogs are trained to work and playing on the bounce house, kids cooled off in the cafeteria with snacks and a chance to ask police anything.
Clark County Sheriff's Capt. Nick Mobley, who also heads the department's school resource officer program, fielded questions from the fourth and fifth graders in attendance Wednesday.
Among their questions were how police respond to a person having an epileptic seizure, how many dispatchers are available to handle 911 calls, and whether or not a kid is allowed to call 911 for their parents if the adults are in need of help. They also wanted to know what happened if a person calls 911 by mistake or for a joke.
"If you're calling 911, that is reserved for emergencies." Mobley explained to them. "It's definitely not a joke." He also elaborated on what to do if you dial by mistake.
He said the kids had a lot of really great questions.
"I think we could probably spend two hours in there," Mobley said. "I think what's so interesting about that group, the questions they have are so inquisitive and so well thought-out — they're very intrigued at that age with police officers and what we do."
He added that kids often bring their positive experiences with the officers back home to their families.
"So we're fostering relationships within the community," Mobley said. "And that's really the main reason we're here."
Kyle and Josiah, who attend Henryville Elementary, were impressed with what the sheriff's department brought Wednesday — especially the K9s and the vehicles.
Josiah said a big takeaway was how to use 911 — to recognize that it's for emergencies, "and if you accidentally call, don't hang up," he said. "Tell them that you accidentally called."
Mobley said the camp is also a chance for the kids to reconnect with their school resource officers during the summer.
"[It's] just a good day for us to be outside, the kids are loving it," he said. "Just another opportunity now that we're out of school for the kids to have something to do, have a little burn-off time.
"It's another opportunity for us to make good contacts with parents and children."