Vanya, 3, does not particularly like wearing her car seat safety belt, and her objections have prompted warnings about a potential consequence for refusing the important restraint: The police could issue her parents a ticket for breaking the law.
Over time, her parents told the Town Crier, Vanya developed negative connotations about law enforcement.
A recent visit with Los Altos Police Department officers, however, altered the little girl’s perception.
After receiving an emailed request from Vanya’s father, LAPD Capt. Katie Krauss organized a socially distanced meet-and-greet Dec. 29 between Vanya; her 9-year-old sister, Avisha; officers Anthony Friebel and Kelli Janda; and Janda’s canine co-worker, Bo.
“I really, honestly, expected (the officers) to go and spend 15 minutes answering this little girl’s questions,” Krauss said. “My team blew me away by the fact that they spent a much longer time than that.”
Over the course of the one-hour meeting, the girls climbed into Janda’s police squad vehicle, sat on Friebel’s motorcycle and bonded with Bo, a 4-year-old, explosives-detecting German shepherd who joined the force in 2018.
After the visit, the officers presented the girls with bags containing glasses, stickers, pens and pencils. And their father sent Krauss a thank-you note.
“He said his daughter now wants to be a K9 officer,” Krauss relayed. “And that’s amazing to me that you had a little girl who was fearful of police and was scared the police were going to take her or her parents away for being bad, and one interaction with our officers, and now she has a goal of becoming a K9 officer one day.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visits with Los Altos Police officers and department tour and presentation opportunities are limited, but inquiries are invited via online forms available at losaltosca.gov/police/page/how-can-we-help.