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San Diego Police Reach Out To Children In City Heights

Video by Katie Schoolov

Three dozen kids were greeted with high fives and smiles from San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and her staff as they arrived Wednesday morning for a tour of the police station in City Heights.

The children were part of Readers in the Heights, a United Way pilot program helping kids in kindergarten through fourth grade stay active in learning all summer long. City Heights, one of San Diego County's most diverse neighborhoods, also has a high concentration of youth.

On Wednesday, the children were learning what it takes to be a cop.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

"I want to be a police officer because police officers are awesome. They save the city,” said Fatimah Yusuf, 8, who smiled throughout her hands-on lesson on lifting fingerprints from a crime scene. She also fingerprinted a police officer.

The kids were reminded of the importance of reading and studying hard in school.

“You have to read over the summer and after school,” said Megene Abdalla, 9, who wants to be a doctor.

During the tour, they "shopped" with officers for new books and made a bookmark. They also met a police dog and got a close-up look at an armored police vehicle.

The event follows a harsh summer of police shootings across the nation. Last month, protesters even filled the streets in City Heights to voice their outrage. Then came the killing of police officers, including one in San Diego. Officer Jonathan De Guzman was gunned down in Southcrest.

Zimmerman said the City Heights’ tour was part of the regular outreach police do to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“You’re part of the community we so proudly serve,” the chief told the children. She said keeping the community safe “is about teamwork.”

She described how she watched the children as they held hands to walk across the street to the police station. She told them, “You all helped each other.”

And that, she said, is the message she wants to get out to the community. “As one person helped another person — that’s what it’s about. It’s about wanting to help our community.”

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