The Newberry Police Department in South Carolina recently invented a creative way to interact with children in the community over the holidays — through a rubber duck hunt.
Newberry Police Officer Caitlin Branch came up with the game as a way to bring police and kids together and instill positive views of law enforcement in the children.
It’s also a fun experience for police officers.
“When we’re having bad points throughout the day, it never fails, a kid walks in with a duck, so that’s just awesome because we get to get out there and smile and have fun, and it changes the whole mood and how we are, so it’s doing phenomenal for us,” Branch said.
The game is simple. If a child finds a rubber duckie, they can return it to the police department and win a prize.
A note is attached to each rubber duck telling the finder to return it to the city of Newberry Police Department to claim their prize.
The hunt began on December 1, and will continue until all prizes are claimed.
“A lot of times I see that it’s kind of difficult for parents to figure out a way to get involved with us, so this kind of brings them to us, and we can sit there and ask, ‘Hey, how did u find the duck?’” Branch added.
Marguerite Girard, the owner of Bike Baby, says the project has been exciting for kids and families.
“One day, I’m sitting in there, I heard a squeal, and I came running outside, and she had found the duck, and she was just beside herself, so yes, they are fanatics about it,” Girard said.
Brach scattered 48 ducks in total throughout the city — mostly in the downtown area and in city parks. Within the first day, 17 were found, so staff members replaced them to get more kids involved.
Police Chief Kevin Goodman said that it’s important to engage with the community over the holidays.
“Community relations can start small and grow into trusting relationships between our department and the community,” Goodman said. “Something as simple as hiding ducks for children to find can have the children and their parents in conversations with police officers that they otherwise may not have had.”