Cops and cones: sweet treats bring officers and the community together for a great cause
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Wednesday may have been the hottest day of the week, but some local law enforcement personnel took time from their day to have a cool treat with the community.
Wherever they are on the autism spectrum, the Autism Society of the Black Hills has helped people of all ages and their families for more than 30 years. According to the CDC, one in 44 children in the United States are identified as being on the spectrum. Autism can be up to four times as more likely to occur in boys than in girls. The Autism Society of the Black Hills aims to provide information and support children with autism, Asperger’s or Pervasive Development Disorder as well as their families in the region.
And in the last three years, organizers have teamed up with Armadillos Ice Cream in Rapid City for a special event.
On many occasions, encounters children and adults with autism have regarding law enforcement can have a negative impact due to things like sensory issues from the lights and sounds generated by vehicles. For situations like these, the organization has created cards for families to let officers know if their children have autism, are verbal, non-verbal, and any other information in a crisis.
The Ice Cream with Officers event aims to make sure children and adults with autism or a similar development disability have a more positive encounter with law enforcement.
“Our goal is to have positive interactions with law enforcement in a non-crisis situation,” Co-President of the Autism Society of the Black Hills Kelly Keim said. “And let them know they are the good guys and that they are here to help and to build a level of comfort between both parties.”
Officers, sworn and unsworn, from the Rapid City Police Department showed up to talk with the kids and their families. however, they were not the only members of law enforcement. Box Elder Police, The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol also showed up with many families and children grateful for the experience.
“Families appreciate it, the kids love it, everyone. There is nothing bad about it. It is just a big positive event,” Community Engagement Officer for the Rapid City Police Department Lt. Tim Doyle said. “We try to do other things throughout the year– they had a thing where we went down to Press Start and played video games. So the more interaction that we can have with the community, the better.”