Law enforcement officers invite kids to have fun, compete

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

The eighth annual Rockford Kids Triathlon featuring officers from local law enforcement, swimming, running, biking and food will take place Saturday, July 14 starting at Rockford High School. According to organizer Lt. Kevin Sweeney of the Michigan State Police, the event is geared for youngsters up to age 17 with varying lengths of race in which to compete. The cost is $20 to participate and checks should be made out to Rockford Area Kids Triathlon and mailed to or dropped off at 345 Northland Drive, Rockford MI 49341. The idea behind the Triathlon is to both promote health and give officers and children a positive, fun-filled opportunity to interact. The event has been held in Rockford for the last seven years and is always a popular summer event. Officers from the Michigan State Police, Rockford Public Safety Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department participate in the running, swimming and biking and hang out with kids during the day-long event. The Corner Bar is donating hot dogs and there will be other refreshments available. Race A is for ages 16-17 and 14-15 and starts with a 9 a.m. swim of 200 yards in the school pool, a six-mile bike ride and a three-mile run. Race B for kids 12-13 begins at 10 a.m. with a 100-yard swim, four-mile bike ride and two-mile run. Race C is for kids 10-11 and begins at 10:30 a.m. with a 100-yard swim, four-mile bike race and two-mile run. At 11 a.m., kids ages 8-9 swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run one mile. At 11:30, kids ages 6-7 swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run one mile. Kids up to age 5 begin at noon with a pool-length swim, a 100-yard bike ride and 100-yard run. The top three finishers in each age group receive awards. Organizers remind participants to check to be sure bikes are in good working order and do require helmets to be worn during the biking portion of the event. “This event is for all children,” said Sweeney. “With good sportsmanship, everyone wins.” Proceeds benefit D.A.R.E. and the Michigan State Police Explorers program. Parents and guardians are invited to view the swim event or greet the child after and orient them to the […]

Algoma Township drops D.A.R.E. funding

December 9, 2010 // 0 Comments

Program the last in Kent County by BETH ALTENA Rockford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Shibler and Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones can’t understand the reasoning for Algoma Township’s decision to discontinue their $5,000-a-year funding of the D.A.R.E. program, and they aren’t taking it quietly. Plainfield Township is also taking a hard look at their budget and had a discussion on whether to continue to fund the D.A.R.E. program. With revenue down across the board in municipalities in Michigan, including the City of Rockford, many government organizations are looking longer and harder at every service they offer, but Jones and Shibler don’t believe D.A.R.E. should fall to the wayside. On Monday, Nov. 29, Jones, Shibler and representatives from the Parent Teacher Organizations of each Rockford school attended a wake-up call meeting at Rockford City Hall to discuss the funding and future of D.A.R.E. “If Algoma doesn’t come around, if we lose Plainfield, we’re done,” Jones said. The D.A.R.E. program is much more than an anti-drug lesson, described Rockford’s D.A.R.E. officer Dave Jehnzen. It is a program that encourages good decision-making with lessons that ideally last a lifetime. Every student in the district takes part in D.A.R.E. in the fifth- and sixth-grade levels, and Jehnzen said that if it helps even a few kids avoid behaviors that lead to criminal activity or drug use, it is a no-brainer with the annual cost of $67,000 split between the City of Rockford and the townships who have students in the district. Jones said the program was originally offered by the Michigan State Police, which cancelled it due to budget cuts 10 years ago. Determined to continue D.A.R.E., the Rockford Police Department took on the program for Rockford Public Schools, and established funding by splitting the costs with Plainfield and Cannon townships each at $10,000 a year, Algoma and Courtland townships—with only part of their students in the Rockford district—at $5,000 a year each, the City of Rockford at $10,000, Rockford Public Schools at $12,500, and Our Lady of Consolation Church contributing $2,500. That total of $55,000 is still short of the entire funding by $12,000, which is currently made up with contributions from groups and an annual D.A.R.E. golf outing held by the Rockford Police Department on volunteer […]

Rockford Police earn highest honor from state organization

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

On Tuesday, October 12, the entire Rockford Police Department was recognized by the Michigan Crime Prevention Association (MCPA) as the number one department in Michigan for community policing. It is an honor usually reserved for a department’s community policing officers, and in Rockford, that includes every officer on the force. “It may seem like an odd request, nominating an entire Police Department for a unit award, but the entire police department consists of 13 officers… every officer practices the skills of a community policing officer every day.” Jones stated in the application letter. The two-page application includes a list of the many community policing programs in which the Rockford Police participate. “I am really proud of the effort this department puts in,” said Jones. The policy of pro-active interaction with the community on many levels was introduced about seven years ago when Jones came on board as Rockford’s chief. Jones said seven years ago, if you had asked a police officer here about community policing, “You probably would have gotten a blank stare.” “We went from novice to excellence in a relatively short time and that is really something to be proud of.” Community policing programs in Rockford include D.A.R.E., Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, Child Identification and Safety, Shop with a Cop, Crime Prevention Site Assessment, and an amazing 20 more programs. Rockford competed for the recognition of top in the state for community policing with other law enforcement members of the organization, including some very large departments such as the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Detroit Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff Department. Jones pointed out that the officers perform all of these extra duties on top of their day-to-day requirements. “This year was a good one to receive this award because the City celebrates its 75th anniversary as a City this year,” Jones said. He noted that the MCPA annual conference, held this year in Traverse City, includes a week of training. This year’s topic is child safety and Jones said many of Rockford’s programs focus on preventative measures to keep kids safe. He is teaching the seminar on Rockford’s child safety program which offers free fingerprinting and a safety video. Rockford officers are working 12 hour shifts this week so as […]

Kids ages 17, under invited to swim, bike, run with officers

June 17, 2010 // 0 Comments

Having a great time with lots of law enforcement officers is just one benefit of signing up for this year’s Triathlon to be held at Rockford High School Saturday, July 10 starting at 9 a.m. Kids who participate—with or without their parents—will enjoy a well deserved sense of accomplishment when they have completed the three-part race and earn their medal. “They have a blast,” said Sgt. Kevin Sweeney, a Michigan State Police trooper who helps organize the annual event. “We have had kids as young as two, with their parents.” Kids ages 17 on down are invited to challenge themselves on foot, in the high school pool and in a bike section of the triathlon. Lengths of the race are adjusted for age, and every child who completes the race will receive an engraved medal. T-shirts are covered in the $20 cost to participate if registration is done prior to race day. After-race refreshments will be provided. Registration early guarantees a shirt while 8 a.m. day-of sign ups will not include a shirt.             Sweeney said the event is designed to promote physical fitness but also serves as a community outreach for law enforcement. “It is important for them to see us in a positive way, not just out writing tickets or things like that,” he stated. In addition to officers, troopers and deputies, there will be volunteers from the Explorers, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, Medical Reserve Corps, D.A.R.E. officers and the Civil Emergency Response Team. To find out more visit www.rockktri.com or call Sweeney on the race hotline at (616) 863-0669.

Program an investment in our children

May 13, 2010 // 0 Comments

“This is an investment in our children.” D.A.R.E. Officer Dave Jehnzen and Rockford’s Chief of Police Dave Jones spoke before the Plainfield Township Board Monday, May 3, asking the township to continue to support D.A.R.E. Jehnzen took time to describe some of the highlights of the program and answer the board’s questions. Plainfield Township has long been one of the community supporters of the D.A.R.E. program, which reaches children in the Rockford Public School district, including Our Lady of Consolation schools. Plainfield Township has budgeted $10,000 for D.A.R.E. Algoma Township, which has yearly donated $5,000 to D.A.R.E., withdrew funding this year. “D.A.R.E. is not about drugs. It is about good decision-making,” Jehnzen said. Chief Jones estimates over 100,000 children have been through the program since the City of Rockford Police Department took over the program in 1999. Prior to that the Michigan State Police ran D.A.R.E. Jehnzen’s D.A.R.E. duties feature working with fifth-grade students in a 10-week curriculum, covering the hazards of alcohol, tobacco and peer pressure, as well as making good friends and decisions. D.A.R.E. has a presence in all grades, K-12, but has a separate program for seventh- and eighth-grade students. “It is a completely different curriculum in the older students. We bring things back from the fifth-grade discussion, and move on to more age-appropriate material,” said Jehnzen. Jones said that funding D.A.R.E. is crucial, and the program will close if funding sources dry up. “Costs have gone up over the years, but we have never asked for an increase in funding,” Jones said. The City of Rockford has absorbed the increased cost of wages for the D.A.R.E. officer and supplies. A golf outing is now helping fund D.A.R.E, opening up opportunities for anyone to show their support of the program. Businesses and individuals are invited to help support this program that has touched the lives of every student in the Rockford Public Schools district. The annual D.A.R.E. outing is scheduled for Thursday, June 24, 2010, at Boulder Creek Golf Club. Sponsorships are as little as $125, with limited availability sponsorships from $2,250 for dinner to $250 for a hole-in-one contest. The day’s activities include lunch on the course and a buffet dinner after the event. The cost to participate is $100 per […]