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Nazareth Officer Works to Expand Community Efforts Nearby

Officer Stephen Schleig, who works for both Nazareth and Palmer Township police departments, makes a pitch to Palmer's supervisors to start a Cops and Kids program.

Stephen Schleig recalls the day he discovered his career.

The Palmer Township resident was just 5 years old when an Easton police officer picked him up and put him on the seat of a motorcycle while another officer offered words of encouragement to the youngster.

"That made me all set to want to become a police officer," said Schleig, a full-time officer with the . He's also a part-time officer in his hometown.

With his Palmer police hat firmly in place Monday night, Schleig pitched a proposal to the Palmer Township Board of Supervisors to launch a Cops and Kids program during next month's .

"I can see the effects of making a bond between law enforcement and the community," he said, adding, "People see us as soldiers, which we are, because we're on the battlefield every day. This is a way to give back to the community and give kids the chance to know us."

In addition to community-oriented events, like Forks Township Police Department's annual bike derby, Schleig proposed that the program would include a variety of demonstrations. All of the township's emergency service personnel would be invited to help out.

Schleig said he believed that he could put together a program in time for Community Days, provided Police Chief Larry Palmer and the board sign off on it.

But the supervisors weren't so sure.

Chairman Dave Colver said he liked the idea, but he thought there were too many obstacles.

"Getting all those people together is a tough act to do," Colver said. "I don't think it's going to be as easy as you think it's going to be. The time is very short. Personally, I don't think you can pull it off."

Supervisor Ann-Marie Panella told Schleig he should use the police booth already set up for Community Days and improve upon it besides just having children get fingerprinted.

"Build on what you've got, you've got the basics there," she said. "And then expand upon it next year."

Supervisor Bob Lammi commended Schleig for presenting the idea and said that Palmer Township should look at other community-oriented programs that police departments like Forks Township are doing.

"The police business isn't about just going out and arresting people," Lammi said. "It should be proactive, not reactive."

Lammi suggested to Christopher Christman, the township manager, that Palmer should examine such programs and consider funding them in the township budget.

"I'd like to see a lot more done on that," he said. "But that's more for Chief [Larry] Palmer, Chris and the board to decide."

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