Tampa Police "Badges & Books" Pilot Program Celebrates Successful First Chapter

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Working to develop positive relationships with the police officers while also building reading skills, the first chapter of Tampa Police Department’s Badges & Books pilot program leaves seven young readers wanting more. 

Officers have been meeting with the group of pre-teens (ages 9-12) for reading sessions since August 2022, each week covering at least two chapters of the novel “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” The reading sessions were followed by discussion points and classroom activities developed by the author himself, Rick Riordan.

The community outreach initiative was launched by Corporal Melanee Gardner of the department’s Strategic Engagement Unit to connect with kids in the community and help them tap into their own imaginations. 

“Not only were they building their reading skills,” said Cpl. Gardner of the program attendees, “but they also got an introduction to Greek mythology and realized that your imagination can take you anywhere in the world.”

On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, the young readers and Tampa Police officers who participated in the program will come together at Ragan Park to celebrate successfully completing the novel by having some blue snacks (read the book) and watching the 2010 movie adaptation together.