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Bailey’s new top cop, Chief Steven Boraski, beamed at the residents’ overwhelming response to the police department’s first open house.
“We’re all excited. It’s a small town, and we want to try to have a family atmosphere,” Boraski said.
Boraski first broached the idea at a March town board meeting as he addressed commissioners with his goals to increase visibility and trust between Bailey residents and the police department.
“I wanted to get everybody together, the police department and the fire department, and try to form some bonding,” Boraski said. “The main thing, since I was a school teacher before, is that I wanted to kids to come out and not be afraid to talk to police officers, to be able to approach us and have a fun family day.”
The debut open house, an event he hopes to hold quarterly, exceeded his expectations, Boraski said. The police department partnered with the Bailey Fire Department, N.C. Highway Patrol and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to bring a variety of activities to the downtown area. Residents of all ages had an opportunity to climb aboard a fire truck, tour the Booze It or Lose It mobile alcohol testing unit, take part in a low-impact accident simulation and drive a golf cart while wearing goggles that simulated the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition, there was free food, a bicycle helmet giveaway and a raffle for two kids’ bikes.
“This is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” said Martha Beichner, who brought along her 5-year-old granddaughter, Emily Browder, to join in the fun.
Bringing friends and families together to learn about the people and agencies that protect and serve the community is why events like the open house are important, said Cheryl Leonard, assistant director at the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
“This is a collaboration of law enforcement and education to inform the public, who then think about taking safety measures in their daily lives and share what they’ve learned with others,” Leonard said.
Boraski said he hopes to schedule the next open house just before the start of the 2019-20 school year and partner with local schools to help provide backpacks and school supplies.