Here at CMH, we know that going the extra mile makes a true difference for our passengers — young and old. For Sgt. Jonathon Todhunter, building a community relationship between our airport police officers and passengers is front and center. Through a program called Books and Badges, Sgt. Todhunter, and other airport police officers, have been given books to read to elementary-age children while they and their families wait for their flights at the gates. After reading the books together, the children are able to keep a copy and take them along on their travels. Since the program began in February, 158 books have been given away to children here at CMH.
Learn more about the program and how it began with Sgt. Todhunter's story, in his own words:
Be the change you wish to see in the world
Sgt. Jonathon Todhunter
Not a lot is known about the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) Police Department. Established in 1995, the CRAA police department started as a small group of dedicated individuals. Since then, it has grown into a full-service police department accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
When I became a sergeant, one of my primary goals was to promote the agency through public events. I always hear from people that they never knew the airport even had a police department or they thought we were a division within TSA. I wanted to find ways for our officers to connect with people and educate them on what we do.
I came across a Facebook post one day about an organization called The Starfish Assignment. The organization created a program where police officers read books to elementary school children. I reached out to Starfish Assignment President and Founder Nicole Banks. A few emails and phone calls later, and a genuine friendship, the Airport Police Department became a partnering agency.
Books and Badges is a program where law enforcement officers read to elementary school level children. After reading to them, the children get to keep the book signed by the officer who read it. After reading, the officer will get to answer questions from the children. The books were provided to our agency free of charge. The program is originally designed to be implemented in schools but with the help of Starfish Assignment we adapted it for the airport. The officers can read to kids while they wait in the gate area, creating a more personal environment.
This program was created to encourage literacy and allow officers to bond with kids in their patrol areas. The program also allows officers to interact with children in a positive environment, helping kids to be comfortable around police officers and allowing them to ask questions and learn about the profession.
We want to show the public that the majority of police officers go to work every day to make a difference.