Last Saturday safety conscious residents flocked to the Windham Public Safety building to celebrate National Safety Day. With a combined effort from AARP, Windham Police Department, Windham Fire and Rescue Department, activities that promoted safety and education were set up around the property.
Among the activities was a K9 demonstration in which Windham Police Dog Vader was on hand to show off his prowess in locating unseen items for retrieval. Vader is a 3-year-old black shepherd that has been trained for numerous police responsibilities. Handler and Officer Steve Stubbs gave an entertaining and informative demonstration. Vader’s actions provided spectators a glimpse of how voice commands play an important role in catching law breakers and finding illegal items that may have been tossed out a vehicle for example. With the assistance of DARE Officer Matt Cyr, Vader also demonstrated the art of attacking and subduing criminals.
Appropriately, the Dalmatian Fire Mascot appeared as did Daren-the-Lion, the mascot for DARE.
The DARE program is taught in the fifth and seventh grades at RSU14. The program is run by Officer Matt Cyr. “Measuring prevention is one of the most difficult things that we do in law enforcement. If someone were to ask me if as a stand-alone [DARE] was the answer, I would look them straight in the eye and say absolutely not,” Cyr said. Has it been successful? “I’ve talked to law enforcement outside our state and they say wow! I can’t believe what you guys are doing. You are the model to follow.” He also expressed, “Windham is fortunate to have what we have. It is a great community. Support for programs such as this comes from all levels within the community. This is not just Windham, it includes Raymond.”
The take-back prescription drug booth was available for accepting old or unused prescription drugs. A collection area was also in the lobby of the public safety building with high hopes to match last year’s success.
“The drug take-back has been a very popular program. That collection yielded 12 to 15 boxes or roughly two tons,” explained Windham Detective Eugene Gallant. Collection is not limited to just these types of events. There is a box in the lobby of the public safety building available for drop off every day during business hours.
“In such a gathering as this where large amounts are involved, it is moved into the evidence cage for security,” stated Gallant. Disposal is usually done by the DEA, however that can change. “The last time there was so much; Officer Cyr and I took the drugs to EcoMaine. They have a secure facility and we had to be present to witness the actual destruction after which we signed off on an official certificate,” said Gallant.
Safety has many faces and The Yellow Dot Program recognizes those of senior citizens. While this program is not specific to them, it is the largest group of users. Originating from Alabama it was developed to aid citizens and first responders in the event of an automobile accident or other medical emergency involving a participant’s vehicle. It was initiated by the Gorham-Windham-Westbrook Triad and with the help of sponsorships the word has gotten out. “It has been here locally for five years and is made up of local law enforcement agencies, businesses and seniors,” said Buffy Houp, who is involved with the program. “Yellow Dot is currently in 30 states and our goal is to get it state-wide here. Our mission is to minimize victimization of seniors in our community,” she continued.
Thanks to the donation by AARP, a Records Management Center truck was offering free document shredding adjacent to the public safety building. The driveway of the Family Resource Center/Food Pantry served as the dropping off point where boxes upon boxes were reduced to shreds protecting the citizens from identity theft.
Further information on the participating programs, visit www.dare.com, www.rmcmaine.comwww.yellowdotme.org