MARTINS FERRY - When McKenna Starr, 10, of the Mount Pleasant area, walked into the Martins Ferry Police Station to thank any of the cops that may be on duty, she received more then she expected.
Her reasoning for offering thanks was out of genuine appreciation.
Since Starr was little, she has always watched the television show "Cops."
McKenna Starr sits in a Martins Ferry police cruiser with Officer John Holmes
This has inspired her to become a K-9 officer when she grows up.
"(My favorite part) was getting in the car and seeing all the stuff," Starr said.
Martins Ferry Patrolmen John Holmes and George Shreve gave Starr a chance to set in one of their police cars.
Shreve called in Holmes, who was out on the road. Holmes gave Starr the chance to see the inside of the cruiser where she activated the lights, radio and the public announcement system.
"She was given a replica sticker badge and was allowed to see the inside of the cruiser and all of the gadgetry we have at our disposal," said Shreve, who was on duty when Starr came into the police station "She seemed like a natural fit in the cruiser."
For both officers it was a humbling experience since both mentioned that it is rare to hear thank you from someone without first helping them.
"What was great about her visit was the randomness. Positive comments happen, but usually those come from someone who has been helped. On rare occasions, a person will make such comments, but usually in passing or when officers are on official duty," said Shreve. "This little girl and her mother went out of their way to stop in, showing appreciation without the convenience of us being around and not because we had directly helped her. She simply said, "Thank you for your service."
According to Starr's mom, Lisa Neal, she found out about thank a cop day, which was Sept. 21, on Facebook. When Neal passed the message on to her daughter, both decided it would be a good idea to thank a cop, but instead they got to thank two.
"Her trip was a steadfast reminder that our youth do continue to look up to us and that it is important to represent ourselves in a way that encourages such positive outlooks," Holmes said. "I encourage parents to enforce the idea that we are here to help and seek us out when they are in trouble."
Both officers, after finding out that Starr wanted to be an a part of the K-9 unit when she grows up, talked to her about where she should go to school and how she should prep for certain things.
"We sincerely wish McKenna the best of luck in her future pursuits and hope she is able to get on somewhere and make an impact with her K-9," Shreve said. "We would like her to send us a message in the future, letting us know how she is progressing and where she has landed."
Van Dyne may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org