ST. JOHN — Belly Flop with the Cops gave St. John-area youths a chance to interact with the local police force and have some free fun in the pool from Friday evening.
“We have some new faces on our force and we want kids to get to know them,” said Officer Tori Perez before the event. “This seemed like a fun way to do it.”
Perez joined the three-member city police force in May.
“I think it was a wonderful idea,” said St. John pool manager Stephanie Smith. “That’s why we waived the normal admission fee of $2 for adults and $1 for kids."
Perez was joined at the pool by Officer Dave Eulenstein, who has served with St. John Police Department since December and who also works full time as a Stafford County sheriff deputy, and by Undersheriff Tom Fischer.
Eulenstein served 20 years in the Army and has worked in law enforcement for 12 years. Fischer joined the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office about a decade ago, following service with the Barton County Sheriff’s Office.
St. John Police Chief Allen Adams, who joined the force last March, is in Iraq on assignment with the U.S. State Department on a bomb dog-handling mission.
“We’ve been trying to do monthly events to get kids acquainted with officers so that if they ever need help, they won’t be afraid to contact us,” Perez said.
She also serves with the Kansas National Guard and previously worked at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility as a corrections officer before coming to St. John.
The next event planned by the city police force will feature a dunk tank. Members of the St. John Police Force and Stafford County Sheriff’s Office are set to take the plunge from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the 2nd Annual City of St. John “Cruise the Square” Car Show on Saturday, Aug. 31.
“We’ll also be available to meet and greet people of the community at that time. We’re looking forward to it,” Perez said.
The St. John swimming pool, located at the corner of 9th and Main, has been a community gathering place for area residents since 1983, is supported by tax revenues to augment the admission price, said Pam Watson, St. John city treasurer. Watson said this year’s budget is $58,000, which includes maintenance and other expenses to keep the pool open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.