“Can I please drive the robot?” Ori Manzke, 4, asked with excitement. The answer was a quick “yes,” as Ofc. Bob Culp began to explain the intricacies of the device.
“These are the wheels and the legs. They go up and down,” Culp said, while Ori steered the device back and forth, up and down.
Ori was concentrating so hard, and having so much fun moving the robot around, he didn’t want to hand over the controller until he was able to maneuver the robot back to its starting point.
It’s this type of interaction between community members and Mt. Lebanon’s first responders that Rock the Block with Public Safety was designed for.
Ori’s dad, Marc, grew up on Folkstone Drive, but was visiting the Markham Elementary School neighborhood and decided to bring his son to check out the final Rock the Block of the season on Saturday, August 12.
The event, now in its second year, rotates through neighborhoods where Lebo elementary schools are located and gives the community the chance to meet and interact with Mt. Lebanon’s police, fire and Medical Rescue Team South Authority in a more approachable setting.
“It’s nice. The community can come out and see us in a more relaxed and casual environment, where we can be looked at as people, versus the formal wearing of the uniform. We want it to be more friendly” said Cpl. Ty Kegarise, of the community outreach unit.
Lt. Steve Noorbakhsh, of the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, agrees. “It’s a good way for the community to learn who we are and understand the public safety message. They get a taste for what we do in the real world and it gives them the opportunity to see what skills are needed.”
Rock the Block with Public Safety has received such good feedback and public support, Cpl. Kegarise expects it to continue next year. “Parents are thankful the kids get to climb around in the vehicles and see the equipment and technology we use. They love seeing it. We love seeing them come out, so as long as it continues to be a success, I see no reason why we would ever stop it,” he said.