REXBURG − Families from all over the Upper Valley came to Porter Park today to enjoy some good food and learn more about local emergency service officers and employees.
Every year the Rexburg Police Department tries to put together a picnic for those with special needs to come and enjoy good food and get to know those who they may one day need.
Lieutenant Colin Erickson said it was all about getting those with special needs familiar with emergency vehicles and personnel. Letting them see that they are people that can be trusted and relied on in times of need.
Tyrel Williams and his family attended the event with their son Riley who has special needs and is non-verbal. Williams said he appreciated the opportunity to show his son who "the good guys" were. So that he could be better prepared for an emergency in the future.
"I think it's great, my kid he's non-verbal so he doesn't know these are 'good guys' so any chance I can get to bring him around these guys and let it stick in his mind that he's safe with them is great," Williams said. "So I think it's great that the community has this."
There were several city officials who attended the picnic and showed their support for the event.
"This is an great event that the police department puts on," said Council Member Christopher Mann. "Sometimes when a special needs person gets lost or is afraid they don't want to talk to people. So this is a great way for the police to interact with them and for [those with special needs] to not be afraid of them. And for us to recognize who in the community might need some help."
Council Member Brad Wolfe said that he thought the event was wonderful and appreciated how the RPD does several events like this one including Shop With a Cop around Christmas.
"I don't know of a better police department in the world, I really don't," Wolfe said. "They just love things like this and they all show up, many of them are on their own time and on duty, they just come and support these kids and it's wonderful."
The EMT's and firemen from the Madison Fire Department were also in attendance.
"Personally, I think this is the coolest event all year long in Rexburg. Hands down, I really do." said Assistant Fire Chief Troyce Minskin.
He said their whole goal was to help people feel comfortable with police officers and firemen.
"To know that we're here to help them not scare them," Minskin said. "We let them in the back of the fire truck, they can get in the back of the ambulance, they can see what it's like on a nice and sunny day when they're not injured and nothing bad is going on. That way if they ever need to ride in one or see a firetruck show up they see that it's nothing to be afraid of."