The crowd of kids and local law enforcement officers were all smiles on May 10 during a Cops and Bobbers event held in Columbus.
During Cops and Bobbers, a youth is paired up with a law enforcement officer to spend some time with them and help foster a positive relationship. The youngsters learn they can trust their fishing buddy while the officers have a chance to learn more about the students and talk to them about how they can help during emergencies.
Investigator Troy Urkoski said the event was started in about 2014 or 2015.
The Cops and Bobbers held May 10 at Pawnee Park East was a “special edition,” meaning students from the special-needs programs at Columbus Public Schools took part. This is the fourth or fifth year for the special edition, Urkoski said.
The original Cops and Bobbers is held around October while the special edition takes place at the end of the school year, he added.
There were 75 students on hand with 15 volunteers, Urkoski said.
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Armed with corn and worms for bait, the students and officers from the Nebraska State headed down to the pond’s bank to try to catch some fish. It was windy but not too chilly for everyone involved.
Columbus Middle School special education teacher Tonja Lusche said it was the first one held in the past couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It's just a great opportunity for our students to get involved with all the first responders,” Lusche said. “In case of an emergency or anything, they will know the first responders, they will know them as friends and people that they can look to if they're ever in trouble or if they need something.”
Urkoski made similar comments.
“It's a chance for them to get outside. Some of the kids have never fished before, it's a chance for them to do something new, something different,” Urkoski said. “They also kind of get to hang out with some officers and get to know us a little bit and have just a good, fun experience for them.”
Lusche noted the time that law enforcement officers make into helping out at the event.
“We just appreciate all of the first responders that are involved in it,” she added. “It really does make our community bigger and it's sort of just sharing the love.”
For the students themselves, Cops and Bobbers gives them a special experience, Urkoski said.
“They really appreciate it,” he said. “You can see when they get off the bus, everybody's got smiles. It's a lot of fun.”
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.