By providing books and bicycles to local kids, The Ohio State University Police Division is working with law enforcement across central Ohio to give back to the community.
Campus police officers are working this year with the Starfish Assignment, an organization that fosters connections between law enforcement and the community, on a series of micro-actions to help at-risk children. At the Books and Badges program events, police officers read to elementary school kids and provide every child in the class a copy of the featured book. Another program, Bikes and Badges, delivers free, refurbished bicycles to children who need them.
For Lt. Marjorie Rizalvo, the programs are a chance to highlight why she became a police officer. R and helped coordinate the bike drive.
“For me, as an individual, it comes back to what’s the why. Why did you get into law enforcement? And it’s to help people,” she said. “I know it sounds like it’s a cliché, but it’s true: We have opportunities to serve. You choose if you take it.”
The university can help the Starfish Assignment through the reading initiative and by recycling some of the dozens of bikes that are abandoned on campus. The university recovers hundreds of abandoned bikes each year, working to return them to their owners or donating them to charity.
This year, some of those recovered bikes and others donated by members of the division made their way to the Starfish Assignment and then to neighborhoods in Columbus.
“We have nine police agencies that we work with – they allow us to work with them when they find people who need help. That’s our primary purpose, to help people,” said Starfish Assignment President and Founder Nicole Banks. “The secondary purpose is to try to bring the community and the police closer together.”
Banks said four Bikes and Badges events in 2021 resulted in the donation of 400 bikes to kids in the Linden, Lincoln Park and other neighborhoods. The Ohio State University Police Division helped donate and hand out bikes which were handed out at some of those events.
For some, this outreach effort may seem small, but for Rizalvo, the small effort can have a big impact.
“When you toss a pebble in the river and it creates a ripple effect, you have no idea what the ripple effect does for those down the road,” she said. “For me, that’s even more important now that I’m five to six years from retirement. I want to plant the seeds of my legacy.”
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