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Tyler County Booster - Local News

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DPS Officers Read to Local Kindergartners

Tyler County Booster

by Hale Hughes

Texas Depertment of Public Safety (DPS) officers are known for keeping our highways safe and serving the people of the great state of Texas. One way that area DPS officers serve here in Tyler County is taking time to connect with the young people in their environment and letting them see maybe a side of the officers that they didn't know was there. Officer Sergeant Stephanie Davis came to Wheat Elementary to read to each of the kindergarten classes. Davis has close ties to Tyler county. "I spent my early years growing up in Nacogdoches, but we moved to Chester when I was in seventh grade, so I feel like Chester is my hometown," said Davis. Davis has been with the DPS for 21 years, holds the rank of Sergeant with Media and Communications, and is stationed in Beaumont. Davis said she got her start in law enforcement "…because someone told me I couldn't do it," she said. I asked her what inspired her to read to the kindergarten children and she said, "I started this program, 'Reading With A Trooper 'in the fall of 2016. Basically what it does is 1. It gets the kids interested in reading, and 2. Getting officers into the community. I think that reading is critical in today's world, because without that skill, a child is very limited. I wanted kids to have a positive outlook on law enforcement, and the only way to do that is to get into the schools." It's no secret that law enforcement has seen its share of bad press over the past year. The best way to change that according to Davis is to start young with the children and engrain in them that officers are good people and looking out for their best interests. Officers are not just ticket writers and ones who take people to jail. A lot of times young people just don't see officers until they are seeing someone arrested or ticketed, and Davis is purposely trying to change that culture. Davis covers seven counties, and promotes Reading with a Trooper not just at Wheat Elemetary in Woodville, but also at Orange County Elementary, Vidor Elementary, Pine Forest Elementary, Bridge City Elementary, Sour Lake Elementary, and West Hardin Elementary. It's well known that officers are here to 'protect and to serve', yet many times the 'serve' part gets lost in the mind of the public. "I think that Reading With a Trooper is a great program, but I believe that not just DPS, but all branches of law enforcement do these kinds of acts everyday. It's just not recognized or publicized." Davis shared other facts of service. "I also co-founded the Injury Prevention Coalition of Southeast Texas and have been doing that for seven years. We go to colleges and high schools and discuss various topics from texting and driving to drinking and driving, even underage drinking." Davis talked about this year's plans. "We do a big spring break bash each year and this year we are holding it at Hamshire- Fannett High School." She reminded me, "This is not just a DPS thing. The coalition spans all branches of local law enforcement and includes fire departments, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, local judges and commissioners. It's a large spectrum of people who care about reducing the number of young people killed on our roadways." It's Davis' wish that the kids see more than just the uniform and realize that these officers care for them just like their teachers and principals do. "I want nothing but success for the children of east Texas."

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