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Tulalip 5th graders become lunch buddies with first responders

TULALIP, Wash. - Law enforcement officers from Marysville and Tulalip sat down for lunch today with some 5th grade students as part of a program that gives kids a positive experience with police.

First responders were called to Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School on Thursday but not for an emergency. They were there for the First Responders Lunch Buddy program. Each month officers from Washington State Patrol, Tulalip and Marysville Police departments have lunch with 5th grade students in an effort to build stronger relationships.

“It’s an opportunity for us to come out and make these kids aware that we’re here to be friends with them, we’re here to help them, we’re somebody that they can trust,” said WSP Trooper Keith Leary.

Students get a chance to hang out with them, ask questions and learn more about first responders. The lunch program was started three years ago by Washington State Patrol and now other departments like Fish and Wildlife and local fire departments are involved too.

“I think it’s just great to give them a mentor figure in law enforcement and in fire, all the first responders. Let them know that we’re here to help them. We are part of their community and we want to be there for them,” said Christie Veley with Marysville Fire Dept.

WSP says because of the program's popularity, they're encouraging other departments across the Puget Sound to start their own program.