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See how kids interact with public safety officers at Touch-A-Truck
Touch a Truck: Tractor tot
Alec DeBeliso, age 3, climbs into the cab of a John Deere tractor at the Gainesville Parks and Recreation's annual Touch a Truck event Saturday, Aug. 4, at City Park in Gainesville. (Ben Hendren | For The Times)

In the midday heat at City Park, Gainesville Police’s Dodge Challenger operated by Cpl. Jessica Van offered a chilling respite for anyone willing to, as Van put it, “cool off with a cop.”

Adayla Grimmett, 20 months, took the passenger seat and stuck police stickers on her doll as well as her 4-year-old brother Malakai during the Touch-A-Truck event Saturday, Aug. 4. (See photo gallery)

“He really likes the firetrucks,” mother Danielle Grimmett said.

Participants estimated more than a 100 parents and children visited by noon at the Longstreet Circle park, where kids could honk horns and explore inside a variety of vehicles.

Hall County Fire Services and the Gainesville Fire Department brought their shiny red rigs, Gainesville Solid Waste parked a street sweeper and Jackson EMC displayed a bucket truck.

Van ran through a roll of police stickers in no time during the three-hour event.

“Events like this allow us to interact with the public, the youth,” she said. “A lot of times they’ll come up and they’re afraid, because they’ve seen police officers in a negative light. When they come here to an event like this that’s open to the public, it allows them to get inside the cars, know that they’re not in trouble and ... interact, sometimes letting them play with the siren.”

The Hall County ambulance manned by firefighter/paramedic Brock Hayes and firefighter/EMT Taylor Simmons had to run a call during the event and come back.

“We’re like the second busiest unit in Hall County,” Simmons said.

Kids coming by could climb around the stretcher and try on the helmet, as the firefighters enjoyed becoming a more comfortable, friendly face for people to recognize.

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