New Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher was spending his first official day on the job by participating in the First Lady's Read20 Book Patrol, a project partnering with law enforcement across the state to help encourage summer reading.
The “patrol” started at the roll call at Police headquarters before visiting the following sites across Chattanooga: Washington Hills YFD center (9 a.m.), Shepherd Community Center (9:30 a.m.), Avondale YFD Center (10:15 a.m.), South Chattanooga YFD Center (11 a.m.), and East Lake Boys and Girls Club (1 p.m.).
First Lady Crissy Haslam was going along with members of the Chattanooga Police Department on the visit to school-age children throughout the community to distribute books.
Mrs. Haslam’s Read20 Book Patrol is a partnership with law enforcement across the state to promote summer reading.
She said, "Summer is a critical time for reading, as students who do not practice their literacy skills while they are out of school can fall years behind in reading.
"“Over a number of years, the accumulated summer loss adds up to a serious achievement gap for children who do not read. The negative consequences can amplify for children in low-income families, because they often have less access to books.”
The Read20 Book Patrol aims to put more books in the hands of children who need them most. Police officers are an excellent vehicle for the book distributions, because they interact with children who might not have books in their home. Literacy can also be effective for crime prevention. Statistics show that people who are literate are less likely to be involved in crime. Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House, donated more than 5,300 books for this statewide project; approximately 1,100 of the books will be allocated to Chattanooga Police Department. After today’s delivery, the remaining books will be distributed by Chattanooga police officers throughout the summer to children who they interact with in their daily work.
“I hope the program can help law enforcement officers increase their effectiveness and safety by building trust with children,” Mrs. Haslam said. “The early years of a child’s life are foundational for their future. It is important for children to understand that police officers care to invest in their success and want them to become strong readers.”
Mrs. Haslam has participated in Read20 Book Patrol events in Memphis and Nashville this week, and she will distribute books with the Knoxville Police Department on Thursday.