It’s not always bad news when the cops arrive in large numbers in your neighborhood. The Columbia Police Department delivered that message to three Columbia neighborhoods last week, and delivered hot dogs and ice cream too.
Officers visited North Pointe Estates, Hammond Village and Columbia Gardens and hosted cookouts for all who wanted to come. They were accompanied by the Heavenly ice Cream truck, which served up frozen treats to go with the hot dogs.
“It’s just important that we get out here and have some good community relations, especially with the kids,” said Capt. Christopher Roberts. “They can see us in a different function than we normally are and interact and have a good time.”
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook started the outreach program as part of the department’s philosophy of community policing, letting everyone know that police officers are part of the communities they serve and protect.
Roberts said it can be an important step toward building relationships and maintaining good will. “It makes us approachable so people know they can come up,” he said. “They have a name and a face; they’re familiar with us.”
Kids and adults alike came out to eat and chat with the officers. The conversations in many cases had nothing to do with crime or police work. They were simply chats between neighbors. Roberts said the officers enjoy the annual ice cream outings as much as the kids and their parents do.
“It energizes the officers.” “It kind of recharges us as much as it does the community.”
More information on the department’s community policing mission is available here.
Pictured: Police officers mingle with the community at Columbia Gardens Friday (photo by Allen Wallace)