Cops connect Ron Russell Middle School kids with race cars

Here’s another good example of police officers who take time and make the effort to help kids in their community …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Rian Hamby gives a GREAT T-shirt to Ron Russell Middle School student Jose Mando-Rivas before they head to Woodburn for a day of racing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland Police Bureau officers from East Precinct were in front of Ron Russell Middle School early on September 17. But, they weren’t there responding to a crime or to civil unrest.

“We’re taking kids from the school down to Woodburn Dragstrip,” explained Officer Rian Hamby, “to see the 26th Annual Fall Classic.”

Although he’s not a School Resource Officer, Hamby said he works District 971, the area of outer East Portland that includes the school.

“This came about because I wanted to do something for the kids,” Hamby explained. “We wanted to give them a little experience doing some positive, fun things.”

East Precinct Officer Nicholas Bianchini,and Officer Rian Hamby, pose for a group photo before heading south to see drag races in Woodburn.

Asked how this unusual adventure came about, Hamby replied, “I was talking to Ron Huegli with the Northwest BB Funny Car Association, at a car show in my district. He suggested we take kids to the races. He got some passes, and with the help of several organizations, we got everything together, and in a few minutes, we’ll be on our way.”

The special trip is in partnership with the Woodburn Dragstrip, the Northwest BB Funny Car Association, the Police Activities League, the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program, and the Sunshine Division, we learned. Counselors at the school picked these kids based on their ability is and their needs.

At the Woodburn Dragstrip, a racer signs a poster for three of the kids. Rian Hamby photo

“By providing activities like this, Hamby noted, “we hope young people see us in a different light, think about the choices they make and what to do with their lives. We are encouraging these youngsters to become positive leaders in their school and neighborhood.”

The more our community gets involved with kids, Hamby added, “the more connected we become and the better outer East Portland can become. Often, the result of this positive activity spills over to their families and their classmates.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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