Garrett Mosar has wanted to be a police officer since he was 2.
As he tried on a heavy police vest and had his picture taken Saturday afternoon at Spokane Police Department’s first Junior Police Academy, Garrett, 8, was more excited than ever about his chosen future career.
He said he wants to save the community from bad people.
“I think it would be fun,” he said.
The event, which packed the River Park Square atrium, was created in part to improve interactions between officers and the public. Spokane police have increasingly focused on outreach to rebuild trust in the community. A U.S. Department of Justice report released last month that examined the department said the effort already is making a difference. For the families who turned out, however, it was all about fun.
“It was an awesome event,” said Garrett’s grandmother, Dianne Fields, as her family finished up. “There was a lot to do. The interaction with the police officers was incredible. They were so great with the kids.”
Kids could color with an officer, meet a police K-9 and tour the inside of a police car in addition to trying on police gear.
Police Chief Frank Straub surveyed the large crowd with his 1-year-old daughter, Ava, perched on his shoulders.
“It’s a wonderful turnout,” he said. “The crowd far surpasses anything we expected.”
The four-hour event started at 1 p.m. and there was a line of people waiting by 12:30 p.m., Straub said. At one point, the line nearly stretched to the mall’s back door.
Several members of the department’s command staff circulated among the crowd and chatted with parents and children waiting in line for each hands-on event. The K-9s, which took turns meeting people so as not to get overwhelmed, offered their muzzled heads for petting and scratches as their handlers talked about their work.
Lisa Hoyt, who brought her three grandchildren, said she was excited to see inside of one of the department’s new police cars.
“It’s really a great deal for the kids,” she said.
The department estimated that roughly 600 children attended. Straub said it was so well received that the Junior Police Academy will be offered next year.
“To see so many people come out to a police event is really cool,” he said.
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