Police officer-magician shows kids tricks of carnival games
By TERESA STEPZINSKI
The Times-Union BRUNSWICK --
Glynn County police Cpl. Glenn Hester knows a secret to make learning the laws of physics fun for youngsters. An accomplished magician and carnival game fraud investigator, Hester brought his bag of tricks to Needwood Middle School to show sixth-grade students Wednesday how law enforcement officers use science in their work. Glynn County police Cpl. Glenn Hester sets up a carnival game as sixth-grade science teacher Doreen Sigman and student Blake Chandler, 11, watch at Needwood Middle School. Hester is a carnival game fraud investigator. CHRIS VIOLA/The Times-Union Knowing physics fundamentals is vital to detecting carnival game scams, Hester told the students. "Similar principles are used in magic and carnival games. And not all carnival games are crooked. There are many good games of skill out there," Hester said. Reuel Freeman, 11, throws a softball into a peach basket in a demonstration of the applications of physics in carnival games. The idea is to toss the ball in without it rolling out. CHRIS VIOLA/The Times-Union "Figuring out how the games work is a fun way to learn science, and it can also help the youths keep from being ripped off when they go to a fair or carnival," said Hester, who also is public relations officer for the department. Hester was assisted by his grandson, Jaime Tanner, 11, a sixth-grader at the school. They used a game in which the object was to knock over a bowling pin with a swinging ball to show students Newton's third law: that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The "bushel basket game" in which a player tosses a ball into a basket without it rolling out requires an understanding of the principle of incidence and refraction. The youngsters had to know that the angle of incidence equals the angle of refraction in order to win the game, he said.
Police learn tricks of the midway
By Teresa Stepzinski
Story posted Friday, 11-Sep-98 - Online Athens
BRUNSWICK - Police officers from across the state played at a makeshift midway filled with crooked carnival games this week so they could learn how to ensure fairs in their home cities are run honestly.
Law enforcement authorities estimate 25 percent of all carnival games nationwide are fraudulent. Another 25 percent are illegal because they are gambling games.
"Ninety-five percent of the time, you'll lose," said Cpl. Glenn Hester of the Glynn County Police Department. He taught the tricks of the illicit carnival trade to 25 law enforcement officers from as far away as Hinesville, Savannah and Blue Ridge.
Hester, respected by police officials nationwide as an expert on carnival swindles, transformed a police training room into a mini-midway, boasting more than two dozen normally rigged games.
Crooks use sleight of hand, diversionary tactics and altered balls, darts, rings and other items to cheat carnival-goers.
- The basketball throw is one of the most popular and easily rigged games. Crooked carnies either over-inflate the ball, use baskets with non-regulation rims or obstruct the rim so that only a perfect shot will go through.
- The ring toss, where a player throws a ring over the neck of a soda bottle or over a prize. It's rigged by making the rings too small to fit.
- The bushel basket game is rigged by using balls filled with lightweight cork, or angling the basket, so the ball will usually rebound out of the basket.
- "English pool" calls for a player to shoot a cue ball into another ball with a coin balanced on top. The player wins if the coin falls into an area designated by the operator.
The game is rigged by placing wax on one side of the coin so it sticks to the ball, or using balls either too light or heavy to work properly.
"They sent me here for this training so not only would I know how to detect the carnival fraud, but also so I could report back (and teach) other officers," said Det. Kenneth Ezell, a police detective in Perry where 400,000 people are expected to visit that city's four-day fair.
Fall is the busiest season for carnival games; that is when most Georgia communities have fairs and festivals.
"These games may only cost a buck or two to play, but people get hooked on them and keep playing," Hester said. "It can really add up fast if it's a rigged game."
Wednesday's seminar was sponsored by the Regional Criminal Justice Center, which is part of Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah.
"We're showing them the mechanics of these fraudulent and gambling games," Hester said. "If you don't know how they work and how to detect them, then you can't make a case against the operators."
Crooked carnies face charges including theft by deception and criminal attempt to defraud, according to Georgia law.
"If you make an arrest, it makes a strong impression," Hester said. "They will think twice before trying to set up a crooked carnival game in your community."
safety in the spotlight
Date July 29, 2002
Section(s) General News
The Stranger Danger program discusses some serious safety issues facing children and their parents.
By KAREN SLOAN
The Brunswick News
When Patrolman Pot Bellied Pig asked what kids should do if they are approached by a stranger in a car, the more than 70 children at a child safety presentation, Stranger Danger, responded that they would yell no and run away.
The pig, a puppet dressed up as a police officer and controlled by Cpl. Glenn Hester of the Glynn County Police Department, used jokes and lighthearted humor to tackle some serious child safety issues at the workshop, held Saturday at Karate for Kids in Brunswick.
"I liked the officer with the pig," said 7-year-old Bethany Bledsoe of Brunswick. "It was funny, and I learned never to go up and talk to strangers."
While Hester and his porky friend had both children and parents laughing and learning about safety, many of the adults expressed concerns for the safety of their children in light of the recent rash of child abductions around the country.
"Everybody keeps hearing about on the news about all of the kids getting abducted, so safety really is a concern for me," said Donna Kiluk of St. Simons Island, whose 5-year-old son, Eric Slayton, is enrolled in karate class at the center. "This is a small town, but things have changed so much. You just never know what can happen."
Hester used the puppet to teach kids not to approach strangers, not to tell people they are home alone over the phone and if left home alone, not to let any strangers in the house, even police officers. He told the audience that children should call the police department to confirm that the person is who they say they are.
"There is a lot of things going on in this country right now with child safety," said Richard Carrasquillo, who brought his four kids to the workshop. "This sort of program is good for morale and self esteem."
While Patrolman Pot Bellied Pig was a hit with many, 11-year-old Alex said he liked the punching best.
Jose Juarbe, the owner of Karate for Kids, taught the audience how to punch a would-be attacker while yelling, "Leave me alone! I'm safe!"
The safety lesson was followed by a karate demonstration put on by several of Juarbe's students.
Helen Long drove 30 miles to bring her 7-year-old great-grandson to Stranger Danger.
"I just figured that something free like this was worth coming out to. I don't know too much about this type of stuff, but I hope he does. I'm just hoping that some of this knowledge sticks with him," said Long.
It is a sentiment shared by Lori Walker, who brought her 5-year-old son.
"This is important for me because my son is starting kindergarten this year. It will be the first time he is away from home," said Walker. "When I talk to him about safety, it doesn't seem to sink in. I'm hoping that with the police department here and everything, it will set in better."
Many parents took advantage of the free fingerprinting offered at the workshop.
The workshop was considered a success by both parents and children, who had a good time and learned some valuable lessons. Hester enjoyed himself as well.
"Here I am, almost 50 years old and still playing with dolls," he quipped.
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