At a time when community/police relations seem tense in parts of the country, Rice Township police appreciate a recent donation of three large bags of toys from local charity Valley With a Heart. The police believe the toys will assist their efforts toward “community-oriented policing,” through which they seek to build and strengthen relationships with the community.
Officers will give the toys to children involved in auto accidents, domestic violence calls or other dangerous or scary situations.
Rice police became beneficiaries of the toy drive because Officer Brian Stout, a 10-year veteran of the Rice police force, is a friend of Rick Temarantz, Valley With a Heart’s president.
Temarantz said the charity was able to donate toys to 12 police forces in Luzerne County this year. The campaign is in its second year, and he hopes to reach out to other communities also. Reilly Finishing and First Keystone National Bank were the campaign’s primary sponsors, he said. Valero in Rice served as one of the toy collection points.
“From what I’ve heard, it changes the whole demeanor of a child” when officers give them a toy during a tense situation, Temarantz said.
Stout said this is just one of many ways the police try to communicate a friendly image to the community. Rice police also hold an annual National Night Out gathering in conjunction with Wright and Fairview police, speak at career day events in Crestwood schools, host Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for tours of the police department, and partner with St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church to hold the annual kite festival.
The force has six full-time officers, and they all live within 10 miles of Rice Township. Stout said they try to get out into the neighborhood and talk with people during their rounds, such as dropping by Ice Lake Recreation Park to chat with people during the summer months. faced by Rice officers include traffic and speeding concerns, incidents of driving under the influence of alcohol
“A lot of guys have been here a long time, so they get to know the residents,” Stout said.
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