Sherriff Jim Tadman and the Polk County Sherriff’s office have welcomed its newest team member, Safety Pup.
Safety Pup is a costume that comes from the National Child Safety Council, which the Polk County Sherriff’s Office has been a part of for 60 years. The previous costume the department had was in use for over 20 years, and the costume needed severe work; Sherriff Tadman talked about the condition of the costume, “after a while, they get worn down. The fans on the inside of the helmet do not operate correctly anymore,” said Tadman, “so we ended up receiving a new costume from the National Child Safety Council, and that was nice of them because they donated the costume to our office.”
Safety Pup is a costume that symbolizes safety for children, specifically helmet safety, walking safety, seat belt safety, and bike safety. This mascot is popular with children at fairs, parades, and school events. Safety pups’ responsibilities are to inform children of all the safety messages and give many high fives. “We purchase each year through the National Child Safety Council literature with topics from bike safety, vehicle safety, to walking home, home alone safety, to 911 calls.” Said Tadman. The safety lessons also include coloring books, cartoons, and various activities so children can have fun while learning about crucial safety habits.
The Polk County Sherriff’s Department takes every chance to get Safety Pup to events around the area. “We try to work him in for the fair and the Nite to Unite in Crookston. If Erskine or Mentor has an event, we may take him down there, just to promote safety within our law enforcement,” said Tadman, “anything that’s going on in the area, we try to get him out there.” Safety Pup made an appearance at the Polk County Fair, where he interacted with the children and handed out the new literature to the fair booths to distribute.
According to Tadman, most children that have encounters with Safety Pup really enjoy his presence and collaboration with law enforcement. The Polk County Sherriff’s Department uses this mascot as an information source for children to inform them that the police are always there to help. “If you just look at the costume, it has a big smiling face and looks like a big puppy. So if the children are not too shy, they tend to be good with it,” said Tadman, “it’s either associating law enforcement with our uniform and combining with the Pup to show we’re good guys too.” Polk County Sherriff’s Department hopes to change the narrative of children being timid to ask for help from law enforcement. “Children often think if they are not good, we can automatically take them to jail. I always tell them we’re the good guys,” said Tadman, “we need to let our children know they can go to us. Whether at a fair or somewhere with many people and if they get lost, they shouldn’t be afraid to go to a uniformed person.”
The day the Polk County Sherriff’s Department received the new Safety Pup, “We Gotcha” forms were to be filled out to complete the formal adoption from the National Child Safety Council. The adoption form is below.