GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Members of the Grand Rapids Police Department spent their Thursday afternoon serving up snow cones and singing karaoke in an effort to improve their relationships with the communities they serve.
With help from the Grand Rapids Police Foundation, families in southern Grand Rapids were able to see a different side of the officers who police their neighborhoods at the first ever Pop-Up Community Open House at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
“We’re taking the police department to the community," Sergeant Cathy Williams tells FOX 17.
Williams says the event is meant to serve as an opportunity for kids to interact with police in the same way they would with a friend or neighbor.
“We really feel that it’s important to get to the youth so we can break that cycle early on," Williams says. "We want the children to be able to interact with us in a non-confrontational, non-enforcement manner.”
Officers there hoped to show people that behind their badge is a regular human being, which is something that some parents at the Pop-Up want their kids to remember in a scary situation.
“I just feel like it’s important because if there’s ever an emergency that arises, that they’re not afraid to ask for help," Kathleen Roxbury, a mother of two, tells FOX 17. “I think it’s great to have things like this so they can see that they’re human and they’re not gonna hurt you.”
Attendees were served hot dogs, snow cones, along with a full buffet. GRPD even brought their new "cop car karaoke" that let kids go inside a cop car and sing karaoke.
Eleven-year-old Branazia tells FOX 17 that before Thursday, she was afraid of police officers but now she is a bit more comfortable.
“It’s actually kinda fun but it’s scary at the same time," she says.
Williams says she hopes the department can do these types of events all over the city throughout the summer.