Monroe police officers have been securing the driveway of Sandy Hook Elementary School on Fan Hill Road every day since Monroe allowed Newtown to use its building in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at their school last December. K-9 Officer Dennis Bradshaw, whose grandson Chad is a third-grader there, tries to make it fun for the children whenever he's on duty.
Two kindergarten girls gave Bradshaw a stuffed duck to keep him company and Bradshaw decorates it differently for each shift. On Tuesday morning, Bradshaw, who wore a cowboy hat himself, dressed the yellow duck up as a sheriff.
The stuffed animal sat atop his police cruiser next to the sign: "New Sheriff in Town! Smile!!"
"I try to do something different every time," Bradshaw said. "They get a kick out of it. Anything that makes them smile — and it helps me."
Dec. 14 was hard on Bradshaw. While worrying about his grandson and the other children, he was one of the first responders.
"It was a long day," Bradshaw recalled.
Bradshaw said he patrols the security checkpoint at Sandy Hook Elementary School about twice a week.
Aside from the stuffed duck, he entertains children — and often parents — with a puppet he manipulates through a shopping bag. Bradshaw said the children can't wait to see what he'll do next.
"Sometimes I think the bus is going to tip over because all of the kids rush to one side to see what I'm doing," Bradshaw said with a smile.