7-year-old lends police helping hand Station work exciting for contest winner


WESTMINSTER -- After spending four hours with various members of the city police force Thursday, 7-year-old Clarissa Davila Ocasio walked around police headquarters like she ran the place.

"I'm leading the way to the cells," she announced to her mother, Patty, determined to give her a guided tour. "You can just follow me."

Clarissa had seen most of police headquarters, Traffic Court and many other facets of the job as the winner of a contest held during National Police Week in May.

The Robert Moton Elementary School second-grader filled out a pledge coupon, which, among other things, listed things she would do to keep her neighborhood safe. Her coupon was randomly selected from the other entries.

"She wasn't really excited until she visited the station," Davila Ocasio said of her daughter. "But when she got here, she wanted to do everything. I knew she was in good hands."

Clarissa began her day at 9 a.m. by touring police headquarters and meeting Police Chief Sam Leppo. When Leppo told her about his job, she said he had a lot to do and needed help. She even volunteered to help him, said Cpl. Rick May, a police spokesman.

She had seen the cell area before her mother arrived, she said, and she "even saw a prisoner" who had just been brought into custody.

But she didn't like the property room -- the place where the police store confiscated goods and evidence from cases.

"Stinky drugs," she said, waving her hand in front of her nose. "I didn't like the drugs."

Clarissa thought Traffic Court was scary.

"Everyone there had been speeding or something," she said.

Clarissa rode in a patrol car where an officer demonstrated how police radar tracking works. She also chalked the tires of cars in ++ metered parking lots and wrote tickets with the parking enforcement officer.

"The police have to write tickets and catch criminals and prisoners," Clarissa said, describing her impression of police work. She agreed that they had a lot to do.

Although the whole day was interesting to Clarissa, she said her favorite part was having her picture taken, which included shots on the police motorcycle, near the patrol cars and her first -- and hopefully last -- mug shot.

"She used to be scared of the police, but I don't think she's scared anymore. Are you?" Davila Ocasio asked her daughter.

L "Well," Clarissa shrugged and smiled. "Not as much, anyway."

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