‘Cookies and Cops’ links deputies with Edgewood Academy students

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Lee County Sheriff’s deputies mingled with about 500 Edgewood Elementary School students Thursday as part of the school’s “Cookies and Cops” event.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Some Lee County Sheriff’s deputies donned hairnets, others sat and ate lunch with some 500 students, and still more passed out cookies Thursday at Edgewood Academy.

The event, called “Cookies and Cops,” was the brainchild of Rena Gezzar, the parent of two teachers at the elementary school. Gezzar sought a way for the students to engage with law enforcement figures.

“The whole thing just put this huge smile on my face,” Gezzar said. “When you watch the kids come in these deputies are like rock stars here. Every group wants them at their table.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Miller called it a humbling experience.

“I have a newfound respect for lunch ladies; they actually have a hard, demanding job,” Miller said. “Bending over for 45 minutes almost killed me.”

Edgewood principal Robert Mazzoli expressed excitement about the opportunity for his students to see law enforcement play a positive, friendly and supportive role.

“Our kids can see the officers are great people, our officers do amazing things — not only to protect and serve — but to come into a school and be there for students,” Mazzoli said.

Mazzoli and Miller praised the children for the way they interacted with the deputies. Each of the more than 100 students who spoke with Miller said “please” and “thank you,” he said.

“With today’s society and law enforcement, it’s good for us to get in and mingle, bridge the gap and develop the relationship we already have and strengthen it,” Miller said.

The event was a first, but school staff said they hope to make it a yearly tradition.

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