WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It is a bit different, they’ll admit it, Wichita police officers are trying something different to improve not only literacy, but community relations.
Officer Joshua Lewis had a special delivery in his hands.
“I think this helps kids not to be afraid of us,” said Lewis. “We are steady striving to make connections with the community.”
He wasn’t on a domestic call, or responding to a call of a crime. The 20-year-veteran of the force was still doing his job just with a different weapon: books.
“Hopefully, they can realize they can come to us officers and that we are there to help them,” explained Lewis.
Lewis was heading to a date with members of the city’s newest book club Wednesday: the Stewart Family.
Elizabeth Stewart has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and her body fails her. Though she lacks the ability to move well, her mind is still sharp. Elizabeth’s mother Annie is hoping to enrich her curious brain and give her firsthand experience with police.
“Reading is going to be a huge part of her world. So, I wanted to get her involved books and have a lot books because you can do that even if your body can’t move,” she says.
Lewis will be back soon to dive into those books with Emily. It’s not his only delivery, but this one left a strong impression on him.
“It impacts me and makes me feel how lucky I am,” said Lewis.
The veteran officer believes reading to youth early can literally be life-changing.
“When we go to this next house, it might be the one that helps cure Elizabeth,” he said.
The next stop gives him more hope for the program.
Several home school children are eager to learn and read with Officer Lewis. It’s what the program is designed to do. It allows officers to spend time with real people and write a new chapter about trusting the man and woman behind the badge.
“We want to be a part of the community,” added Lewis.
The fire department has also hopped on board with the program and just received their latest shipment of books. Soon, they’ll start handing those out to those who have signed up.
The program is a one-time deal for now and sign ups are filled. They’re hoping, if it goes well, to continue it in the future.