St. Louis middle school students exchange letters, hugs with police officer pen pals

ByJasmine Huda

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ST. LOUIS – A large group of police officers arrived at a St. Louis middle school. But in this case, there was no reason for panic.

Although there might have been some nerves.

“The anticipation. Just hoping that they like us,” Lt. Amy Parker-Stayton said.

Parker-Stayton and her colleagues visited KIPP’s Triumph Academy on Linton Avenue to meet their “Blue Pals.”

The Blue Paul program is a letter-writing pen pal program between the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and 5th-grade students at KIPP St. Louis.

Students and officers exchanged letters over a ten-week period. Tuesday afternoon, they met in person for the first time.

Bernard Quinn, 10, was Lt. Parker-Stayton’s, Blue Pal. Quinn said he was excited about their shared interests.

“We both went to LEGO Land. And her favorite Greek God is Zeus. And my favorite Greek God is Poseidon,” he said.

The afternoon included ice cream, a presentation, and some other activities.

Although it marked the end of the Blue Pal program, Lt. Parker-Stayton said the friendship will continue.

“Hopefully we’ll build a long relationship with the kids, where they can contact us at any time. And let them know we’re not the bad guys. We’re the good guys. If they need us for anything, we’re here,” she said.

Two years into the Blue Pals partnership, police seem to already notice the “blue” in Blue Pals.

“A parent stopped me outside. She says, ‘I’ve been trying to get in touch with you. I’ve having some issues with my son.’ And he asked about his Blue Pal. So, I made that connection. And a year, later, it’s a beautiful thing,” Sgt. Ja-Mes Davis, coordinator of the Blue Pals program, said.