By Capt. Tamara Fischer-Carter
HQ AFSPC Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A miniature model of Scruff McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, used to educate “taking a bite out of crime”, stands at the back of the classroom. There is a knock at the door and all the children yell out in amazement as they turn around and see a life-size McGruff at the door. Immediately he is embraced with hugs and high fives as three security forces members accompany him into the class.
Airmen from the 21st Security Forces Squadron spoke to the children at Woodmen Hills Elementary School, Oct. 11, to educate them on recognizing “stranger danger” and helping with crime prevention.
October is Crime Prevention Month and the preschoolers have been learning a great deal in the classroom with the miniature version of McGruff, so they were taken aback when he visited with them in person.
Diana Smith, a preschool teacher at Woodmen Hills Elementary School, said her students were thrilled by the visit. “We were very excited to have an opportunity to bring McGruff into our classroom to help support our stranger awareness lessons that we focused on for the week. The children enjoyed the McGruff puppet we used when teaching the lesson and loved seeing him walk through the door,” said Smith.
“The children talked about how cool it was to give him a hug and a high five,” she said. “All the children left knowing that a stranger is someone you don’t know and what to do if a stranger approaches.”
Staff Sgt. Brian Smith expressed his pride for all the hard working Airmen of the 21st SFS and police across the country who risk their lives daily to keep their nation and community safe. He shook hands with the children and explained the importance of stranger awareness and how to contact law enforcement should they need help.
“The objective was to teach them what to do should they be approached by a stranger,” said Smith. “It’s important to educate them on the many services available should they need help in the community.”
Staff Sgt. Andres Freire and Senior Airman Sarah Kern, also from the 21st SFS, aided McGruff by handing out bags with stickers and reading materials about crime prevention, how to report and prevent incidents, and crime fighting advice.
“I believe it’s very important to have situational awareness and teach children how to act with strangers for their safety,” said Kern. “Stranger danger is not often talked about, so we need to show the community and the kids that if it’s happening to you it’s OK to tell someone else.”
“Alert a teacher or your parents; you can even call police services, you can call any adult close by in the event a stranger is wanting to harm you,” said Freire.
To help cut down on crime, the 21st SFS put together Operation Crime Stop, a simple program encouraging members of the on- and off-base communities to immediately report any crimes or suspicious actions they see.
“Operation Crime Stop is designed to overcome the reluctance of individuals to ‘get involved’ with police activities,” said Freire. “It recognizes that some individuals will report their observations to police only when they know they can remain anonymous.”
Operation Crime Stop offers one specific phone number for crime reporting, which allows witnesses to remain anonymous.
Anonymous crime reports include school crimes, such as persistent bullying, domestic violence, suspicious activity, threatening acts or behavior, possession of weapons, and the use or sale of illegal drugs.
When calling the Operation Crime Stop number, ensure you provide the following information:
- Name or description of the person involved
- A description of the crime or suspicious activity, including as much detail as possible
- The location of the crime or suspicious activity (be as precise as possible)
It’s important to report all crimes. Don’t be afraid to get involved, and help McGruff the Crime Dog, and his friends at the 21st SFS, “Take a bite out of crime.”
The following on-base phone numbers can be used to report a crime or suspicious activity:
Operation Crime Stop (Peterson Air Force Base) — DSN 556-HELP (4357) or 719-556-4357.
On-base emergency — 911
The 21st SFS law enforcement desk — DSN 556- 4000.