PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A fire truck rolls into a parking lot on the CCAC Allegheny campus, to join police officers and North Side youngsters in a summer camp called “Cops and Kids.”
Pittsburgh Police Officer Gary Rupert coordinates youth programs, introducing youngsters to those who risk their lives to serve them.
“The police sometimes have to go there, and we have to arrest some people sometimes,” he says. “But they see us in a different view now. We’re friends. We’re normal people.”
The “campers” are startled by a motorcycle siren, and fascinated with bomb squad technology – especially the robot capable of detonating explosives. CCAC is one of three locations hosting the free camp, operated by police and fire volunteers.
Fire Lt. John Sharpe gives campers an inside look at that big red engine, as well as the tools of his trade.
“What do you think we use an ax for?” he asks. “To break down stuff,” a youngster responds.
The round robin event in the parking lot is just one part of a course that continues through the week. For many, the best part is meeting the K-9 officer, a German shepherd. But just a word of warning:
“They let the kids pet the dog here, but when they’re working you don’t touch the dog,” says Officer Rupert. “Because when they’re working, they’re serious, and they’re barking and they’re ferocious.”
Even a police dog likes to be off duty, every now and then.
“We teach them that we’re not bad guys,” Rupert explains. “We’re good guys.”