Retired Officer Helps Children Prepare For Emergencies

Generations of school children have learned about preparedness through Officer Friendly

Mr. Rogers may have his neighborhood, but "Officer Friendly" has his classroom.

John Reed, also known as Officer Friendly, considers teaching school children to be prepared for emergencies his rightful calling.

Reed was a police officer in the 1970s, and he admits what he saw on the streets got to him. So, Reed moved into community relations and became more than a uniform to school kids.

"He has a magic about him," Otto Laufer of the Santa Ana Police Department says. "He connects with children, and their eyes light up like nobody I've ever seen. So, when he carries the message of preparedness it sticks with children, and they carry it home and talk to parents and family about it."

Reed retired from the Santa Ana Police Department 22 years ago, but when he puts on Officer Friendly's badge, he knows he's connecting with a purpose.

During his presentations to the children, he can seem like a preacher on Sunday morning, but he knows that his methods help get his ideas through to the kids.

"Whenever there's an emergency we're prepared," student Ginna Jones says.


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Reed dawns Officer Friendly during the presentations and tells children to gather supplies and create a plan in the event disaster strikes. He does this with the help of his furry partner, a fox puppet named Ready Fox who helps keep the children engaged in the presentation and lightens up the mood.

Reed has been doing these presentations for so long that parents who pick up their children from school were also once children who sat through Officer Friendly's emergency talks.

"Parents come to pick up kids from school and say, 'Hey you're that officer who was coming to school when I was here,'" Reed says. "'Yeah, and now I got your kids, what you think about that?'" 'That's cool!' they say. They get excited."

What Reed really hopes to get out of his passion career is for the students to adopt his mantra: "You can never be too prepared."

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