By Ed Brock
It was 3 a.m. and Morrow Detective Jovee Mosely, then a patrol officer, responded to a burglary call in a dark building. She carried her standard issue rechargeable flashlight with her, the one she had been using throughout the night.
This time the light failed her, emitting only a dim glow by which she had to search the premises for a crime in progress.
"I knew somebody was out there and I didn't have enough light," Mosely said. "It made me feel uncomfortable."
Mosely and her partner did arrest two suspects in that burglary that took place some time last year, and afterward Mosely went out and bought a small backup flashlight with her own money.
Now, thanks to a $1,500 grant from Wal-Mart's Safe Neighborhood Heroes program, the rest of the department's officers will soon be equipped with belt-mounted backup flashlights.
The Clayton County Sheriff's Office and the Riverdale Fire Department also each received $1,500 in grants from the program. The grants are part of the $184,500 that the Wal-Mart/SAM'S CLUB Foundation is donating to law enforcement and public safety groups around the state to fund projects and buy equipment.
Right now the Morrow department is testing different brands of flashlights for purchase, Maj. Charlie Sewell said, having already received their money. The benefit of having the flashlights is obvious for officers on night patrol, Sewell said.
"But what about a daytime officer who goes into a building and winds up in a dark space. He doesn't expect to need a flashlight," Sewell said. "Now he'll have the little flashlight on his belt and won't have to go back to the car for the big flashlight."
The sheriff's office is supposed to use their grant money for public safety education programs, according to Wal-Mart corporate communications. Further details were not available.
The Riverdale Fire Department will use its money for educational tools and, in part, to finish their "mobile fire safety theater" constructed in a surplus school bus the department bought from the county for $1.
Inside the bus resembles a home with a kitchen and bedroom area that are designed to teach children how to avoid burns and how to escape from a burning house.
"The inside's complete but we have to get the outside painted," Riverdale Fire Chief Billy Hayes said.
The department still hopes to have the paint job at least partially donated so most of the $1,500 Safe Neighborhood Heroes grant and an additional $1,000 grant that Wal-Mart gave Hayes' department on Monday will most likely go to other educational props.
"That money coming in will allow us to use other funds to paint the bus," Hayes said.
The bus made its premiere at last Saturday's Kids' Day event at the newly reopened Krispy Kreme on Ga. Highway 85 in Riverdale and Hayes said they have brought it to some schools as well. This Saturday the bus will be at the Wal-Mart on Highway 85 in Riverdale as part of the store's Child ID Event from 1 to 3 p.m.
The Wal-Mart on Jonesboro Road in Morrow will also hold a Child ID Event Saturday but it will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at that location. During the event the store will give away an ID card that can be filled out with information on the child in case of emergency, a photo to go with the card and a copy of a brochure called "Knowing My 8 Rules for Safety."