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Orange County Focus

Countywide : Police Break the Ice With Player Cards

September 09, 1993|MIMI KO

Police officers throughout the county are giving children Dodger baseball cards in an effort to win friends.

The cards feature pictures of 28 Dodger baseball players, Manager Tommy Lasorda and a group shot of the team's coaches on one side, while the flip side contains anti-drug and character-building messages.

To collect the cards, children must strike up a conversation with any officer besides those who regularly visit schools to teach Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, classes.

"The only reason we don't want the DARE officers to hand (the cards) out is because kids already know us and we want them to make contact with other officers who they see walking or driving through their neighborhoods, so that they can see that police officers are people just like everybody else," said La Habra DARE Officer Cindy Knapp.

The card distribution, she said, "encourages better community relations and it makes kids more comfortable with talking to police."

Cards featuring Dodger pitcher Pedro Martinez were given away last week in La Habra. Different players' cards including those of Eric Karros, Cory Snyder, Brett Butler and Mike Piazza also will be passed out--one per week.

On the back of Martinez's card is the DARE message: "Dare to be square. Being square means that you are honest, fair, reliable and trustworthy. . . . This world could use a lot more of us."

Baseball card collector Blake Harrison said that although he will feel uncomfortable asking for a card the first time, he does plan to ask for a few.

The cards "might be valuable some day," the 12-year-old said. "It's kind of weird going up to someone you don't know, but if you do and they're nice to you, then you're less scared and it gives you confidence."

Harrison's sentiment pinpoints what police hope to achieve through the card distribution, Knapp said.

"We feel it's a good way to give the kids some positive example of how police are trying to help them with problems," Newport Beach Police Sgt. Andy Gonis said. Officers there will begin distributing the cards within a few weeks he said.

Police in Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Orange, Placentia and Santa Ana also will distribute the cards.

Children from throughout the county are encouraged to ask officers from any of the participating police departments for a card.

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