By Bernie Tafoya

VIDEO: A Chicago police officer is getting used to speaking in front of a group. He was given a topic to talk about off the top of his head.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — More than 50 Chicago police officers received training on Thursday to be part of the revival of the Officer Friendly Program.

Chicago’s Officer Friendly Program was revived by Supt. Eddie Johnson two years ago and with the 56 officers trained Thursday at police headquarters, there will now be about 150 police officers who will visit kindergarten through third graders in city schools.

Deputy Chief Dwayne Betts, head of the Office of Community Policing, said Officer Friendly will teach kids about Stranger Danger, how to use 911, and about safe places.

“Since 2016, 26,000 children have been trained on Officer Friendly,” Betts said.

“We’re about engaging the youth. We’re about creating relationships of trust with the community, and what a better way to get an early intervention with these youth, which is what we think we need to turn some of this cycle of violence and bad decisions around.”

Betts said he remembers when Officer Friendly would visit his class at Our Lady Gate of Heaven School on the Southeast Side.

“I don’t remember his name, but I was so proud to have that book to color, fill it in, take it home. They sometimes would give you little toy badges and we’re going to have some nice little souvenirs for these kids after their training as well,” he said.

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