Installing a child safety seat is not an easy feat. In fact, most people who put them in rarely do it correctly, according to Sergeant Jim Hildmann of the DeWitt Police Department. Thus the main reason behind the department's community safety event that took place July 22 at the East Syracuse Fire Station #2 located on Sanders Creek Drive.
"Most citizens -- it's up to them to install," Hildmann said. "Even if mom or dad thinks they're doing it right, usually they're not, including myself because I'm not a safety seat technician."
A safety seat technician knows what it takes to get the job done properly, and a certified deputy from the sheriff's department was made available for families at the public event held Saturday.
"Usually the child seat safety is the biggest draw because people just want to get it done," Hildmann said. "It does take some time to do."
Certain police departments such as Manlius and Syracuse have what is called a fitting station, when, during particular times in the day, a certified police officer will be made available by appointment to inspect a car seat. The DeWitt police are not set up with a fitting station -- which is why they take such an active part in community events.
Keeping fingerprints on file
Investigator John Anton, head of Youth Services at the DPD, was stationed indoors for the three-hour event, offering free fingerprinting to children through the Child Fingerprint Identification Program.
"It's a great program for kids of all ages," Anton said, adding that the age range extends from as young as 1 to kids going off to college.
With a digital laser scanner (no more ink), 10 fingerprints are taken, as well as a digital photograph. All the information is then recorded onto a mini CD and then burned onto another one to give to the parents or guardians. A poster is also printed.