BROOKINGS – The Brookings Police have canceled Safety Town for the summer of 2020, according to Assistant Chief Derrick Powers.
“The Brookings Police Department regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Safety Town program,” Powers said.
“The safety of our community is our No. 1 priority,” he said, noting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a difficult decision for us to make because of what the program means to us and what we know it means to the community,” he added.
Local kids, 4-6, have been attending Safety Town for almost 40 years. Safety Town offers three sessions each summer. Each session runs for two weeks Monday through Friday, with one group in the morning and another in the afternoon, Powers said. Each group can have as many as 40 kids; meaning about 240 kids go through Safety Town each summer.
“Certainly, we do reach a lot of the younger kids to teach them about the safety issues,” Powers said.
They get to walk and drive the streets of Safety Town, to practice being good pedestrians and drivers, try on firefighter suits, and sit in an ambulance and police cruiser. They learn about strangers, poison, weather safety, gun and fire safety, water safety, crossing roads, animal safety, bicycling, ambulances and EMS, and about calling 911 and when to do it.
Last year, one attendee, Aksel Youmans, then 5, learned how to call 911 in the morning and then called 911 for real later that afternoon when his mom Niki was in and out of unconsciousness. Medical personnel came and helped Niki.
The COVID-19 pandemic is throwing off a lot of activities in 2020, and the police department took that into consideration.
“We weren’t accepting any registration until we determined if it was going to be safe to move forward so … we just want to let people know that we won’t be opening up registration for this year and we’ll be canceling it,” Powers said.
He cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the very young age of the participants.
“Due to the current social distancing requirements, we feel it would be difficult if not impossible to maintain a safe separation between all of those involved in the program,” Powers said.
Although Safety Town won’t take place this year, plans are already underway for the future.
“We’re looking forward to next year when we hope to continue with this great program,” Powers said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]