Local police department finds a way to connect with the community.
by Lisa Cavanaugh
Yarmouth Police Sergeant Diana Wells is the mother of two young children, so she knows how the Covid-19 stay-at-home advisory presented some challenges to parents. “My kids were going a bit stir crazy with only us at home,” says Wells, “so I knew it would be fun for little ones to have somebody else reading a book to them.”
Inspired by a similar program at the Mashpee Police Department, Wells, along with Officer Mary Gibney and Officer Nicholas Giammarco, began making videos of themselves reading favorite children’s books for Deputy Chief Kevin Lennon to post on the department’s Facebook page. “There has been a lot of excitement about the Story Time with the YPD program,” says Wells. “Other officers and department staff, including our dispatchers, have asked to participate.”
Wells, who has been with the Yarmouth Police for ten years, sees the effort as just part of the overall community outreach that the YPD has been engaging in during the coronavirus pandemic. “Our department is very open to welcoming ideas from officers about how we can help,” says Wells. YPD has been collecting gift cards to distribute to needy residents, doing care packages for home-bound individuals, and when possible, offering birthday “parades” for local kids.
Wells had her own children help her choose appealing books. “I wanted to go with classics, like Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are,” she said, and during National Sexual Assault Awareness Week, Wells read a book titled Don’t Touch My Hair. “I thought it was such a clever and friendly way of introducing body safety,” she says. “I read it to my own kids and found it to be a great way to open up a conversation about how no one should be touching our bodies without permission.”
As businesses and town facilities begin to reopen, the YPD has paused the program briefly, but now that summer is here, Wells is eager to relaunch the program and choose a few new books to read aloud. “The library is open now, so I’m looking forward to getting some new ones to share,” she says. “Right now, I will focus on summertime themes, but later in August I will choose some back-to-school books. We will keep on reading to kids as long as it is needed and wanted.”