WESTFIELD—Community police will be providing children this Saturday with valuable lessons on bike safety.
The Westfield Police Department’s community police will be holding the second annual Bike Safety Rodeo at the Elks Lodge, 56 Franklin St., Saturday, June 11, from 9 a.m. to noon. Police will be there with refreshments, lessons, raffles and obstacle courses to help teach children and parents bike safety. Westfield Fire Department personnel will also be on hand.
Officer Juanita Mejias will be spearheading the event.
“The main focus is to show the kids that they have to be aware of their surroundings and not just the friends that they’re with, and that they always have to be on the lookout on the roadway,” Mejias said.
Mejias said that the obstacle courses will be within the Elks Lodge parking lot, and will simulate real-life situations, but in a safe manner. The Moose Lodge, which is next door, will provide its parking lot for families who arrive by car. Both locations are providing the spaces free-of-charge.
The courses will include practice staying within the lines provided for bicyclists, avoiding various obstacles and how to be aware of surroundings.
Additionally, police will be on hand to make sure that bike helmets are fitted properly, along with a safety checklist for parents to go over with their children.
“We offer to talk to parents because it’s not just about educating the kids, but educating the parents, too,” Mejias said.
“I’m a mom at heart and I love kids, and this was something that came easy to me,” Mejias said about creating the event. “I love to cycle as well, and know how frustrating it is to know the rules.”
For refreshments, Westfield Police will be providing children and parents with popcorn, water and hot dogs. Items being raffled off include bike equipment.
The event is part of Westfield Police’s efforts at becoming more involved in the neighborhoods and the city through its community police, and, according to their website, “to identify issues before they become problematic.” Other efforts have included the new downtown community police center.
The community police are a six-person group, with each officer stationed in various neighborhoods with higher than normal incident numbers. The group consists of Sergeant Eric Hall, and officers Mejias, Steve Nacewicz, Alan Magdycz, Kevin Bard and Mark Carboneau.