Valentines with Riverton Police and dozens of local families
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) —
Police-community relationships have been at the forefront of controversy the last few years.
From Ferguson to Trayvon Martin, to Anthony Lamar Smith.
Now Riverton Police are encouraging officers to reach out to the youth community.
"It's been shown that it really does help and it's effective,” said Riverton Police Chief Jim Lawley.
Chief Lawley said he wants to encourage police-community relationships to be the 'social norm'.
"For us all,” he said. “This is a great community we're very blessed to be here and work for them."
Saturday, police were taking this concept and spreading the love.
"Sprinkles! And icing,” said two kids, Allie Gutierrez, and Payton Roberts. “Makes me feel happy."
“They protect us,” said Trent Newell.
The smell of sweet Valentine’s cookies filled the air.
"I definitely think it's taking an impact on her life already,” said one Springfield mom, Aubrey Walker. “At age 5."
The tumult between police and civilians have heightened over the years through protests and riots. Now, some parents say its events like these, that can help highlight the majority of the workforce, the good cops while showing that the majority of the community accept and support their police departments.
"I think it will actually eventually everyone will come around,” said Walker. “And I think it will become a good thing."
Chief Lawley said they will always try to build trust and support with the community.
"Being with the kids,” he said. “And interacting with them, it really gives them an upfront view of a police officer not on a police call but in a positive fun manner."
"They're so respectful,” said 5-year-old Emily Monts. “They protect us…They take bad guys."
"They are helping us to be good,” said 3-year-old Grace George. “I would say thank you."
Riverton police posted signs around town and raised money to put on this Valentine's event.
They say their major fundraiser happens on July 14th.
It's called the "Back the Blue Fundraiser" and it's a car show.