BRATTLEBORO — Dean McColgan is so enamored with police officers that he even dresses the part.
"My middle son, Dean, age 4, has recently taken an interest in the police department," said Jill McColgan, whose oldest son attends Academy School as a kindergartner. Dean has all the accouterments, including a police uniform, with a belt and flashlight, cell phone, camera and walkie talkie.
During drop off at Academy School, students are often greeted by Brattleboro's Det. Lt. Michael Carrier
"Last week, Dean commented on the officers uniform," said Jill. "Lt. Carrier was very friendly and answered all of Dean's many questions."
Following the informal "interview,"Carrier handed Dean his business card and told him his mom should a tour of the police station.
"That card meant so much to Dean," said Jill. "He proudly showed everyone the card and spoke of his interaction with Lt Carrier."
The next week, Dean and his mom showed up at the police station in Brattleboro's municipal building.
"Dean was over the moon excited on the day of the tour. Lt. Carrier greeted us with a very friendly smile and took us into the station. He introduced Dean to Chief Michael Fitzgerald. Dean proudly showed the chief every single item on his belt."
Dean and his mom were then given a tour throughout the building. "Every one was extremely warm and welcoming of me and Dean."
During the tour, Dean and Jill met many other officers and detectives.
"Dean proudly showed them all of his important items," said Jill. "I was truly amazed at how every member of the Brattleboro Police Department responded to Dean. They were friendly, stopped what they were doing, got down on his level, asked him questions, answered his questions and really enjoyed having him there. Everyone listened as Dean told stories about how to 'catch the bad guy' and described in lengthy detail his many important items."
Jill McColgan said her son's tour was very impressive.
"It was such a positive experience for the two of us. I feel that it is very important for him to know that the police are here to help us and that we can trust them. Lately, there has been so much negative press regarding police and their interactions in the community."
Jill said Carrier went above and beyond expectations to reach out to Dean and take an interest in him. "I am so happy that Dean feels confident and comfortable with our police department."
Carrier was out of the office this past week, but Capt. Mark Carignan said showing Dean around the department is the kind of work any police officer likes to do.
"This is the best part of our job. Building relationships with the community is critical. Strong relationships are built during interactions like this one, not during times of tragedy or controversy. We want to know the community and its members, their expectations and needs."
Carignan said Lt. Carrier has always been a strong advocate for community policing.
"He excels at building relationships like this and Brattleboro is fortunate to have him out in the community forging these relationships. His leadership position allows him to invest these values in his subordinate officers as well."
Carignan also said he hopes Dean's interest in becoming a police officer lasts until he is old enough to actually become one.
"He is a sweet and precocious young man who enjoyed sharing his passion for police officers. Hopefully it will last and he can come join us in 20 years."
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.