The dunk tank was a featured attraction at the city of Hesperia's recent 20th anniversary celebration. While the tank was a hit with the kids, there was an underlying message: the Hesperia Police Station is not only here to enforce the law, but its deputies and staff are an integral part of the community.

"This is a part of Community Oriented Policing," said Sgt. Ken Lutz. "The policy comes directly from the Sheriff (Gary Penrod)."

While Sheriff Penrod has set the tone, it was a new member of the Hesperia Police Department who generated the idea and set the plan in motion - literally.

"This was Deputy Hardin's doing. It all started with his idea."

According to Deputy Franklin Hardin, he asked himself, "What can we do on the city's 20th?" After coming up with the idea, he, the station's public affairs officer, Roxanne Walker, and other supporters rounded up a crew of willing participants. Throughout the day of the event, Hardin, Lutz and others of various ranks sat on the dunk tank seat and awaited their watery fate.

"We were the dunkees," Lutz said.

No matter how good their aim, every child successfully dunked a member of the police station.

"It was good to interact with the children," Hardin said. "It let them know we are there to help them out."

Hardin said that many others helped the event become a reality including the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, Stater Bros. and others.
The dunk tank resulted in more than just fun for kids, the $725 in proceeds on Aug. 5 were donated to Desert Communities United Way whose motto is, "Where the money raised here, stays here." Accepting on the organization's behalf was Tracey Lowther, who directs DCUW's campaign.

Finding innovative ways to connect with the community - especially younger people - is important to the station. Deputies also participate in Cops N Jocks, which provides an opportunity for police staff to interact with local youth through sports, and Shop-with-a-Cop, a program in which deputies take needy youngsters on shopping excursions.

For Deputy Hardin, he is thrilled to be a part of an organization that values giving back to the community.

"They really want us to give back to our communities," Hardin said. "We're here as a friend not only for the bad times."