McGruff the crime dog is Ketchum's newest weapon against crime. The city's police department recently bought a McGruff costume to be used in schools and at local events to draw attention to crime prevention, bullying, Internet safety rules and stranger danger education.
"Who doesn't like a dog costume?" asked Ketchum Police Chief Steve Harkins.
Community policing programs begun in 2009 are having the desired effect, Harkins told the City Council on Monday.
Programs are the Hemingway Police Field Day, Training for Intervention Procedure Program (TIPS), Bicycle Rodeo Safety Program, Crosswalk Enforcement Safety Program, Bicycle Patrol Unit and Homeowners Security Check Program.
The Hemingway Police Field Day brought police dogs, patrol boats and, of course, police officers to third-graders at the school last spring.
"The kids had a great time last year," Harkins said.
The program will be offered to other grades this year.
Harkins also said he encourages his officers to become a lunch buddy, a program in which he himself participates.
"The kids, they love it," he said.
The TIPS program, which offers training to prevent intoxication, underage drinking and drunk driving, worked in conjunction with the Blaine County Alcohol Compliance Task Force. Harkins said alcohol-consumption compliance has increased dramatically since it was implemented.
Mayor Randy Hall expressed support for the policing initiatives.
"It's nice to be able to have those kinds of impacts," he said.
Rebecca Meany: firstname.lastname@example.org