By Jessica Farrish
Wesley Bostic, 5, son of Lori and Jamie Bostic of Beckley, left Kohl’s Department Store Friday afternoon with several stickers, pencils, a keychain, a tattoo, and a new idea.
“I wish I had a police officer suit,” Wesley told his mom.
Wesley, LaMya Walker, 6, and her little sister, Malia Walker, 3, were among the approximately 50 kids who stopped by Kohl’s parking lot to see Artie, the tracking bloodhound of Beckley Police Department, and to chat with BPD officers Cpl. J.W. Legursky, Cpl. J.H. Blume and Cpl. W.P. Reynolds.
Legursky, Blume and Reynolds spent three hours handing out safety information to parents, fingerprinting kids, and giving promotional items aimed at keeping children safe from strangers.
Artie — always a hit with the kids, the officers said — made several appearances, too.
“Artie always does wonderful with people,” said Legursky. “She’s people-oriented by nature.
“A lot has to do with the bloodhound breed: By nature, they’re relaxed, almost lazy, dogs.”
Still, Artie can track a missing child — or a “bad guy” — with amazing precision and energy, Reynolds added.
“If you were to put her in a harness and give her a (scent), by the time you hit (the next block), you’d be done,” he said.
The officers spent around three hours handing out literature and educating the public.
“We just like being out here and talking to people about the K-9 unit, talking to kids, getting them interested in safety,” said Blume. “It’s good to interact with the public on something positive.
“A lot of times we’re dealing with people at their worst.”
Legursky cautioned parents that with warmer weather approaching, stranger safety should be a focus for children.
“Kids tend to be outside more often,” he added. “Keep an eye on them.”
Reynolds said BPD is dedicated to keeping kids safe and is developing a program that focuses on K-9 training as a kids’ educational event.
Kohl’s associate Roger Collins, 42, of Beckley, organized the event with BPD as part of Kohl’s Cares — Associates in Action, a corporate program that encourages associates to serve the community.
— Jessica Farrish