Dinner allows cops and kids to talk | NevadaAppeal.com

Dinner allows cops and kids to talk

Teri Vance
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Over a game of Texas hold ’em, Deputy Nate Brehm and 13-year-old Chase Ryder talked about gangs, drugs and the more mundane topics of adolescent life during Tuesday’s annual Cops and Kids Dinner.

“I thought it was important to be here to let kids know gangs are not OK,” said Brehm, the Carson City representative for the Tri-County Gang Task Force. “On the street, they’ve already made their choices. In this kind of setting, maybe you can help them not make those choices later.”

The Cops and Kids Dinner brings together law-enforcement officers and kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs and Mentor Center for a spaghetti dinner at Casino Fandango.

“That’s what this is about, sitting down at the dinner table and having a family dinner,” said Sheriff Ken Furlong. “This is about opening communication and opening trust. You get more from around the dinner table than you get anywhere else in life.”

A stack of cards was placed on each table to help start up a conversation.

Some questions were more fun, like, “If you could write a book about anything, what would it be?”

Others were more pointed: “Have you ever been asked to try drinking alcohol?” and “How do you think parents should discipline their children?”

Ruth Gordon, director of the Mentor Center of Western Nevada, said the questions were meant to help break the ice.

“A lot of these kids have had bad experiences with law enforcement,” she said. “A lot of law enforcement haven’t necessarily had good experiences with kids. This is a chance to sit down and get to know each other as people.”

In appreciation for their support, Sheriff Furlong and Undersheriff Steve Albertson were presented with paper mache figurines of themselves from art students at the Boys & Girls Club.

“Now I have a full head of hair,” Furlong joked as he received his.

Joseph Garcia, 8, said the evening was informative.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “You can ask the questions you’ve been wanting to ask like, ‘who trains the dogs?’ “

And for 13-year-old Ryder, his conversation with Deputy Brehm reaffirmed his commitment to remain drug free.

“I’d rather get shot in the kneecaps than do drugs,” he said.