Houston Police Department Lt. Stephanie Gaithe, mother of sixth grade student, Sam Girard, planned and arranged an exciting morning for the sixth grade class. With the help of several moms, the students began the morning with a wonderful breakfast in their classrooms. After breakfast, the students headed to Warrior stadium and anxiously awaited the arrival of an HPD helicopter.
Pilots, Sgt. Joel Rodriquez and Sgt. Randy Martin, did not disappoint when they arrived with a secret passenger. After circling the school several times, the helicopter safely landed on the warrior head of the football field and Mrs. York emerged from the helicopter to the cheers of the students.
The officers then educated the students on the details of the helicopter, including the electronics on board, the search lights, cameras and other fascinating features. They also described how HPD utilizes helicopters in the protection of our city.
The students broke into three groups to rotate through exciting facets of HPD.
- One stop was a tour of a SWAT tank. SWAT team officer Pat Straker gave a tour of the armored tank and answered the students’ questions about the purpose of the tank and equipment the SWAT team uses on a regular basis.
- The next stop was K-9 officer Zachary Zopfi and his partner Fox, a German shepherd. Officer Zopfi explained to the students the purpose and benefit of K-9 officers and their dogs.
- For the third stop, the students saw more four-legged members of HPD, the mounted patrol. Officers Charles Hufstedler and Marcos Betancourt sat high above the students on their horses while answering their questions and sharing stories about their days as mounted patrol officers.
The sixth graders had an awesome time “backing the blue!”