As part of Greenfield Elementary School’s Red Ribbon Week Celebration (Oct. 23-31), members of the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Virginia Conservation Department, and Botetourt County Animal Control presented information about their roles in public safety to over 450 students and school staff members.
Deputy Kevin Smusz and his K-9 partner, Axon, showed off the incredible skills of one of Botetourt County’s most exciting resources. Axon and Deputy Smusz demonstrated the specialized tracking skills that can be used in the search for narcotics as well as missing people or fugitives. Deputy Smusz answered questions about the unique training required for both the dog and the human to work as partners and shared age-appropriate stories about past successful searches. The children were enthralled by the pair.
Another member of the Sheriff’s Office who presented was Deputy Brett Benoit. He regaled students with his demonstration of the capability of the County’s armored “BearCat” vehicle which seats 10-12 fully equipped officers for off-road and rural missions. Deputy Benoit discussed the training required for his role in providing law enforcement in rugged terrain not easily accessible to the typical patrol vehicle.
Conservation Officer Shane Wilson brought the boat he uses to assist with wildlife conservation research projects and to enforce wildlife maintenance, boating, and fishing laws on Virginia’s waterways. Deputy Wilson explained the training needed for his role as a liaison between the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the citizens of Virginia. He encouraged students to value the outdoors and take seriously their responsibility to help manage and protect wildlife in our community.
In 2021, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office added a motorcycle patrol unit headed by Deputy Steve Honaker. This presenter was especially engaging for students because Deputy Honaker is married to a Greenfield fifth-grade teacher, Beverly Honaker. The children were thrilled to see Deputy Honaker’s motorcycle and learn about the role he plays in traffic enforcement and roadway safety. Deputy Honaker explained the training he received in order to become Botetourt County’s first motorcycle patrolman. He also allowed students to explore the features of the motorcycle.
Officer Brooke Olinger, one of Botetourt County’s Animal Control Officers, taught students about the role of Animal Control in our community and the emphasis placed on the care and treatment of domesticated animals. Officer Olinger allowed students to examine some of the tools used to restrain animals that may be a threat to public safety. She described some of the situations in which Animal Control was called to assist when wild animals entered the homes of Botetourt County residents. Students were interested to learn about the type of training needed to work in Animal Control.
The last law enforcement officer who presented was Sergeant Rob Black from the Virginia State Police. Sergeant Black allowed students to climb in his patrol car and examine the equipment. He informed students about the role of State Troopers in public safety, community service, education, and law enforcement and described some of the training required for his role. Sergeant Black is the parent to Greenfield first grader, Trey Black.
It was a full morning of presentations and children returned to class excited about what they had seen and heard. Greenfield students developed a deeper understanding of the responsibilities and requirements involved for those who desire a career in law enforcement thanks to instruction, hands-on experiences, and personal interaction with these exemplary members of our community.
~ Carolyn McLucas,