When police officer Julia Burney learned that most of the children in the neighborhood she patrolled had no books to read, she started handing out books from her squad car. That simple idea grew into the Cops-N-Kids Reading Program and Center — it also inspired two cities to join forces to reach thousands of children.
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Sharon Sayles Belton, Mayor of the City of Minneapolis "I just want to say, "thank you" for bringing Julia Burney's program to our attention. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, on an unprecedented basis, we're coming together to make this type of program work — two mayors, two fire departments, two police departments — all working together to make sure that our children are able to read."
Minneapolis Firefighter Rob Sayers "We've given out about 20,000 books. We actually have given books to children that have never had a book before. You never know what a child may read that may motivate them."
St. Paul Police Sgt. Mamie Singleton "It has been a known fact that the police are not well loved and the program by giving kids books as gifts has broken that tension between the two. It makes [children] feel as though, 'This is my police officer here.' You almost feel like a celebrity especially when the kids ask you, 'Would you autograph the book?'"
St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Tony Carter "We'll usually autograph the book 'Happy reading' or something encouraging. And it's very fulfilling for us."
Minneapolis Firefighter Charles E. Rucker "It's a positive experience for [kids]. They see a positive black man in the community. And if they see me in the community, they can go ahead and see what they can do with their life."
Minneapolis Firefighter Rob Sayers "Julia Burney actually really made me realize that one person really does make a difference."
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