Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wildwood Police "Sign Up" to Keep Kids Safe

(Above: Officer Andrew Kolimaga stands in front of his likeness 
on a kiosk sign at the Boardwalk and Glenwood Avenue.)


Visitors to this city’s world-famous Boardwalk this summer may notice new signs at several kiosks reminding them that when it comes to children and police officers, Wildwood officers are there to help.

“Over the course of a season, we hear hundreds of parents tell their children, ‘Don’t do anything bad or he (the officer) is going to arrest you,’” said Wildwood Police Chief Robert Regalbuto. “We don’t want children to be fearful of police officers. We want them to know that police officers are their friends and are there to help them.”

According to the chief, if a child is lost or in distress a police officer is the friendly face that will offer safe haven until he or she is reunited with parents or other help can be administered.

Patrolman Andrew Kolimaga and Ptlm. Rhameir Edwards are the faces who look out onto the boardwalk and remind parents, “Please stop telling your children we will haul them off to jail if they are bad.  We want them to run TO us if they are scared, NOT be scared of US.”

“We wanted the signs on the Boardwalk so parents will see them,” said Regalbuto. “We wanted parents to see them and we wanted to help educate parents so they don’t tell their children to be fearful of police officers.”

In addition, information for parents on how to contact the police department is on each sign.  The department’s website address and information on how to follow the department and receive alerts on Nixle is included in the signage.

“A parent can text WPD3 to 888-777,” said the chief, “and that will link them to the Wildwood Police Department which will allow them to sign up for alerts.”

Signage and space on the kiosks was donated to police by In Plaza Advertising, Inc. of Southampton, Pa.  “The company donated both the space and the artwork,” Regalbuto said.

With almost two miles of boardwalk to patrol, an average of 25 – 30 police officers are assigned to one of the most famous seaside walkways in the world.

“We are trying to make the environment safer for residents, visitors and children,” noted the chief.

“It’s a very large area with bells, whistles and lights that attract children, so they’re not paying attention.  If we can give kids, mom and dad a little bit more information, it’s a good thing.”

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