Pa. officer responds to false alarm at school, ends up reading to class instead

K-9 Officer Jason Bonace's day took an unexpected turn when his daughter's teacher asked him to read Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" to a classroom of second graders

Alexis Johnson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PENN HILLS, Pa. — When Penn Hills K-9 Officer Jason Bonace and his partner were dispatched to a 911 open-line call at Penn Hills Elementary School, he didn’t think his day would end wearing a “Cat in the Hat” craft-made headband.

After the officers determined that the call was a false alarm, Officer Bonace wandered over to check on his daughter, Giavanna, who happened to be in her second-grade class in that same school on Monday. But what the officer didn’t know was that he was just in time for Read Across America Day, and Giavanna’s teacher, Michelle Feorene, thought it would be a great idea for him to read a story to the class of 20 kids.

An easy task, Officer Bonace thought. How hard could it be to read Dr. Seuss’ classic tale “The Cat in the Hat”?

“What was funny is, I remember the book. I mean who doesn’t?” he told the Post-Gazette Thursday. “But I do not remember it being that long and difficult to read.”

Twenty minutes and 61 pages later, Officer Bonace said he was happy he was able to get through the tongue twisting challenge. “I said ‘sure,’ thinking the book was 10 pages of simple reading,” he wrote in a post to his Facebook page Tuesday. “Then she handed me the 61 page book filled with complicated poetic tongue tying phrases that would trip up the most experienced of professional orators.”


Yesterday our department was dispatched to Penn Hills Elementary school for a 911 open line. Turns out, there was no...

Posted by Jason Lee on Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Officer Bonace said he took several breaks -- not only to catch his breath -- but to discuss the book with the class and found himself incorporating some very important life lessons.

“The fish was telling them they can’t have strangers in the house and something we always preach as officers is ‘Stranger Danger,’” he said. “I was telling them things like, ‘It’s always best to be honest with Mommy or Daddy even if you think they’re going to be mad at you.’”

The impromptu lesson was more than fulfilling for Officer Bonace who has been with the Penn Hills police department since 2005. Not only did it make his week, he said, the experience made his entire year. “I got into law enforcement to help people and interact with my community and what better way than that.”

As for Giavanna’s reaction? Officer Bonace asked her how he did; she responded, “Eh.”

Oh, out of the mouths of babes.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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