Police picnic to build trust

By  | 

Toledo (13abc, Action News) - A hot dog, a high five and simple conversation could go a long way to bringing understanding between police and the community they serve.

That is the goal of the Crime Prevention Picnic. It's the yearly effort allowing police and kids to get together and spend time.

We talked with a lot of kids who feel comfortable around police, but Joseph Stallworth doesn't.

He told us, "All the shootings and killing and all that going on, I don't really trust them anymore."

Trust is difficult to regain. Officer Greg Mahlman knows that but he says trust is earned when kids to see you as you are.

"I'm just a dad. I'm a human," he told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann. "This is my job and I'm just a regular guy who's out there for their best welfare."

Pastor Cedric Brock with Mt. Nebo Church is leading an effort with the mayor and police chief to create a climate where police on the street and people in the neighborhood trust each other.

But he says talk is cheap.

"We can talk all day," he says, "but if there's no action, all we doing is talking. We're just making noise."

But if you are looking for action, it was in Ottawa Park Tuesday.

Malyiah King-Carter says she feels police learn something from her. "Yes, because they get to like connect with us and understand like who we are and how we feel towards stuff."

Youth Counselor, Jay Shavers said, "One day, the kids will see these officers in another setting, things can be understood because they understand where you're coming from."

Understanding is the key and Tuesday's picnic may have helped Joseph change his mind.

"Police officers are not that bad once you get to know them," he said.

Pastor Brock is holding a class Thursday to teach kids how to act when they engage with police.

And police hold Coffee with Cops events and attend Block Watch meetings and are engaged in town hall meetings.

It's all a way of creating trust between police and the community they serve.