Douglas County deputy connects with Castle Pines kids
Left: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mike Garcia gets bombarded with questions by Castle Pines kids while on patrol on August 2 in the Briar Cliff neighborhood. Right: Garcia and Castle Pines resident Jack Zelkin pose for a photo op after the deputy spent close to an hour educating kids about police officers and the role they play in the community.
Information courtesy of the Douglas County Sheriff’s blogspot with photos courtesy of Jack Zelkin
Retiree Jack Zelkin saw the patrol car pull into his neighborhood – lights flashing, and grabbed his camera. The amateur photographer wanted to see what the commotion was about. The Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy that Zelkin witnessed was not writing tickets. He was out of his patrol car entertaining kids.
More than a dozen children climbed in and out of Deputy Mike Garcia’s cruiser, plastered stickers shaped like badges on their chests, and peppered him with questions. Zelkin was inspired by the scene and started snapping pictures of the interaction.
“I instantly recognized this was a great moment. The deputy was teaching kids what the police are all about, teaching them that they’re the good guys and they are there to help, not hurt,” Zelkin said. “A lot of kids grow up thinking cops are bad guys. Well, this guy is a teddy bear!”
Deputy Garcia passed out 20 stickers while talking to the kids for nearly an hour Thursday, August 2, in the Briar Cliff neighborhood of Castle Pines. “They wanted to play with the lights, see the inside of the patrol car, and [they] were asking about all of the stuff I carry,” Garcia said. “It was like standing in front of a panel of judges. They surrounded me with questions, non-stop, and I was just trying to keep up and answer them all.”
Nobody tells Garcia to interact with kids, it’s just something he does while on patrol. Kids always ask the deputy, “What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?” It’s an easy answer for Garcia.
Garcia was in a gunfight and was shot exactly two years ago on August 2, 2010. An intoxicated man with a gun threatening to shoot up a restaurant in Franktown aimed his weapon at the deputy, blasting a dozen holes in his cruiser and hitting him once in the arm. Garcia fired back and took him down. The man is in prison for the rest of his life and the deputy was left with a lifelong injury that almost ended his career.
“It’s about educating the kids; teaching them that we’re people. We’re real, regular people and we have a job to do,” Garcia said. “I always tell them, ‘If you need us, do not be afraid to call us. We’re good guys and we’ll talk to you’.”
Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver commented about Garcia, “he’s a shining example of our patrol force and what many of the dedicated men and women in Douglas County do for their communities every day. That’s what we’re all about!”