BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — The Pittsfield Police Department has inspired another area department to launch its own “Operation Copsicle” program. It’s an effort in community policing that uses sweet treats to break down barriers.
Bennington Police shared a heartwarming photo to announce the start of their new program: Operation Copsicle.
“The kids were excited; the kids were running up to us, the officers couldn’t keep up cutting the little plastic off the popsicles,” said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette.
Chief Doucette says officers handed out 360 popsicles at Saturday’s Bennington Battle Day Parade, launching a community outreach effort inspired by the Pittsfield Police Department.
“They’ve gotten a lot of great publicity over that and they’ve made a lot of friends and broke down barriers in the community and that’s really what we want to do,” said Chief Doucette.
Bennington is the first department in the country to adopt the program run by Officer Darren Derby in Pittsfield. The Pittsfield community raised 50,000 dollars in two months to add an ice cream truck to the operation. Officer Derby says for Bennington to be successful, they need community buy-in.
“Every community has the ability to do that, maybe not on that large of a scale, but you know we’ve kind of gotten away from community policing, other things have taken over, but we really need to get back into it,” said Officer Derby.
On Friday Bennington Police officers handed out coupons for ice cream as part of the statewide effort, “Creemee From a Cop.” 11-year-old Destiny and 8-year-old Aidan were lucky enough to score one.
Before, Destiny thought of police one way.
“They will take you to jail,” she said.
But after, “police are nice,” said Destiny.
Mom Heidi Main says it’s changed their perspective.
“Absolutely, and mine, normally you see a cop and you don’t want to stop,” she said.
Chief Doucette says improving the relationship between the public and police will make Bennington safer.
“Publicize being safe, and at the same time breaking down barriers and getting the people in the community to approach us and talk to us tell us what’s going on,” he said.
No taxpayer money is used in this program and Doucette says they probably won’t be buying an ice cream truck like they have in Pittsfield, but he says they are open to accepting a donation if anyone has one that they can use.