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UPDATE: South Pasadena Police Have a New Safety Mascot

Third Grader Wins Police Mascot Naming Contest
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South Pasadena Police officers were on hand Friday at Arroyo Vista Elementary School to honor the student that named the department’s new safety mascot. Zoe Lee, 9, in the third grade, pictured in the middle, came up with the new name for the mascot, Justice. Just to the right of Zoe Lee is South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller. Read the entire story in next week’s print edition of the South Pasadena Review. Photo by Steve Whitmore

It was just time. McGruff the Crime Dog had been used for nearly three decades by the South Pasadena Police Department as its safety mascot for community events, especially those with children.

So, about five months ago, the department opted for a new mascot. They devised the costume, which consists of a German Shepard’s face and paws. They secured the funding through private donors. Everything was set. Except now, they needed a name.

The department decided to create a contest whereby they would ask local public-school children to come up with the name and the winner would get all the pizza they could eat and the naming rights. As well as a visit from their local law enforcement.

“Any time you can get public schools involved, that’s the best,” said South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller. “This is another great example of the schools coming together with the community and the police department.”

The name the department decided upon was “Justice”and it was Zoe Lee of Mrs. Fang-Umansor’s third-grade class at Arroyo-Vista Elementary School who came up with the new moniker.

“I am so proud to be her teacher,” Fang-Umansor said last Friday when more than a dozen police officers descended on Arroyo Vista to unveil the new mascot and present Lee and her classmates with all the pizza they could eat. “I’m so happy for her.” Furthermore, the pizza was served to them by police officers.

Zoe Lee gave the new mascot, Justice, his name.

“Now, you can’t beat that can you? Having the police serve you lunch.” South Pasadena Councilman Robert S. Joe said during Friday’s celebration at the school. Joe also presented Lee with a city pin and a city coin. Joe said the city only has about 250 of the coins, having handed out more than a 100.

Meanwhile, as the kids gobbled up their pizza lunch, Miller reflected on the underlying purpose of such a mascot.

“We will use it in the safety fair, the July 4th parade, things like that,” Miller said. “It’s important for the kids to begin to interact with us at an early age. These kinds of mascots can bring us closer together and that’s always important.”

As the celebration wound down, Principal Cheryl Busick announced over the school’s public-address system that Zoe Lee had won the naming contest.

Lee was beaming, smiling from ear to ear as she gave the new mascot, Justice, a big hug.

Steve Whitmore

Steve Whitmore is the assistant editor for the San Marino Tribune and the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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