08/17/2019 – Tiffany Sappington will guide children through underwater adventures, llama growing pains and whether to eat green eggs and ham.
It’s all in books.
Sappington, a Tulsa police officer, is one of the patrol officers in the south Tulsa area who has committed to reading to children weekly.
At 3:30 p.m. every Thursday, Sappington will sit down with children at Darlington Oaks Apartments, 4801 S. Braden Ave., to read books and help them with homework.
“Growing up, I didn’t have the best home life; we had our fair share of struggles, and my escape from that was reading,” she said.
It is part of the Tulsa Police Reading Patrol program, a partnership with the police department and the Tulsa Crime Prevention Network. Tulsa police officers and Crime Prevention Network officials announced the reading patrol program Friday during a mini-block party at Darlington Oaks Apartments.
Some books already slated for the reading patrol are Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” Marcus Pfister’s “The Rainbow Fish” and Anna Dewdney’s “Llama Llama” series.
Granted, the children will have quite a bit of sway over which books are read.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jennifer Murphy has worked on similar initiatives since 2014 at schools and other apartment complexes.
“Some days, I just didn’t want to go to work, and these kids would just brighten my day right up,” she said.
Reading to children was one thing that helped to balance the high frequency of trauma exposure that officers experience. It also gave the children she read to a chance to spend time with a police officer outside of emergency calls.
The ultimate goal of the program is to mix those two things: promoting reading and interactions between children and law enforcers in “a safe and welcoming environment,” said Karen Gilbert, Tulsa Crime Prevention Network executive director.
“If they (officers) do have a call that they have to take, that takes priority,” Gilbert said. “Even when they’re done with the call, they’re still committed to come in and work with the kids.”