The West Liberty Police Department has a new mascot.
Local residents are getting an opportunity to meet “Grogu,” an extra-terrestrial star of the Disney Star Wars Series movie “The Mandalorian” and the little guy with a police badge is getting a lot of attention.
While posing in various restaurants and places in the community, Grogu was obtained by the department to help officers “connect” with the community, according to Kim Halpain, who has been with the department since July 2017.
She said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has struggled to find ways to connect with the community and says their new buddy has helped the department solve some of that problem.
Grogu, who is also referred to as “The Child” in the movie, has been all over the community and is a star on the West Liberty Police Department’s Facebook page, posing in all kinds of things including being put in a box as part of the city hall moving process Friday.
He’s been in restaurants, squad cars and various places in the community, according to Halpain, who said the new mascot was a shared idea with officer Josh Houser when they saw the creature being featured on social media in various positions and places.
“We thought it would be fun to get one of our own,” said Halpain, although noting his fellowship is sometimes limited because of social distancing and the pandemic.
She said there have been invitations from the schools to having Grogu visit, but officer Halpain said it’s simply just not good timing that this point.
“We need to keep him a safe distance from the kiddo’s,” she said, noting the department doesn’t want to expose any children or school staff to virus risks.
But she’s also hoping, with more and more vaccinations, that the pandemic comes to an end and Grogu is able to visit his friends in the West Liberty schools.
She said requests to get a visit from the extra-terrestrial are welcome by businesses and other institutions. The officer also said she hopes to someday create an official West Liberty Police Department uniform for Grogu, but for now he’s best to be identified by his beige robe, big eyes, floppy ears and a police badge pinned to his chest.
Interim chief David Lira said Grogu has served as a great communication tool since coming to the department about six weeks ago.