Stories with HPD to Kick Off at Main Library in March
The pilot program will allow officers to spend one-on-one time with families.
Join Hillsborough police officers for a story at the library!
Once a month, Cpl. Chad Wilson and Officer Juan Duran will be at the Orange County Public Library in Hillsborough to read children’s books selected by librarians. The six-month pilot program Stories with HPD starts in March, with 30-minute sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month through August.
“Having one-on-one time in a small setting will allow us to reach families and build confidence in our communities,” Wilson said. “Our goal ― one at a time ― is to build a level of trust with the community and achieve their support to call on us when they’re in need.”
Families with children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade can choose the 30-minute session that works best for them. One family may sign up per session, and masks and social distancing guidelines will be followed. Parents will be expected to remain with children participating in the sessions.
Each 30-minute session will include about 15 minutes for reading and 15 minutes for book discussion or a question-and-answer period with the officers. Sessions can be offered in Spanish by request.
“I wanted to help start this program with the library to build more rapport with the community, starting with the future of the community children,” Duran said. “I hope that this helps bring the community closer with the Police Department. I can also speak Spanish, so I hope this encourages more Spanish-speaking families to attend community events such as this event.”
Among goals, the pilot program is intended to help encourage literacy, identify the library as a safe place, and reduce barriers to both library use and communication with officers. The program fits with the Hillsborough Police Department’s commitment to excellence, including delivering quality services through cooperation, open communication and a commitment to continuous improvement.
Wilson and Duran are members of the Police Department’s Community Action Team, which works to build relationships with community partners. During the pandemic in 2020, Hillsborough officers read virtually to multiple elementary classrooms within the town’s jurisdiction. Recently, Wilson and Duran connected with the Orange County Public Library about adding a program with officers. The library is one of several community partners that Hillsborough police have joined in a team effort to bridge the gap between families and law enforcement.
“The last two years have widened that gap,” Wilson said. “Gathering with children at a young age will help with their views on law enforcement, providing an opportunity to understand our job within community-based policing practices. Reading books helps children connect with the officer and allows for a personal connection to build. Hearing our voices and seeing our emotions face to face allows that connection to build. We want the public to view us as humans ― and not robots.”
Following the six months of testing, the program will be reevaluated for any changes and possible continuation. The officers also hope to bring the program to the Fairview and Gateway communities when the weather warms.
For additional information or to register for Stories with HPD, visit orangecountylibrary.org or call 919-245-2532.