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Walker PD's 'Community Care Initiative' goes above and beyond call of duty

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Posted at 3:03 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 17:58:00-04

WALKER, Mich — To protect, serve and pay it forward. The Walker Police Department is responding to the need highlighted by the pandemic.

"Over the past couple years with COVID, in the pandemic, and everything, our officers were realizing, we were getting calls for service that maybe weren't your traditional police call," explained Officer Mitch Harkema, community outreach and engagement officer for Walker PD. "We had people that started reaching out just because 911 is an easy number to remember. And they were looking for services, or they were just kind of fallen on hard times."

Harkema said many officers would help from their own pocket before the Community Care Initiative was created late last year.

"We kind of got to talk in the police department, like, wow, wouldn't it be great if we had some of this stuff on hand, so we didn't have to run to the store, we could just grab it from the PD, throw it on a cruiser and assist these people," Harkema explained.

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Some of the items on hand at the department, thanks to the initiative.

Thanks to local businesses and the generosity of neighbors, officers have been able to use the initiative to assist in nearly a dozen cases.

The department shared a recent story of the initiative in action on Facebook this week when Officer Zachary Pasternak took the time to help a woman in need instead of simply writing a ticket.

"He stopped a lady for an expired license plate just making a traffic stop and realized, you know, she had a lot of kids in the car seemed like she was working really hard... realized, okay, maybe she could benefit from a little bit more of this initiative," said Harkema.

"We were able to provide her the car seat for her grandson who had outgrown his infant carrier, we were able to give her some grocery cards. She still hasn't been able to get the funds to renew her license plate tab. So we're kind of working on some things with that, hopefully down the road to help her with that."

The post has earned lots of praise, comments and shares.

"We always try to showcase the positive side of policing. You know, a lot of times when we go to a call for service, we're just reacting to something," Harkema told FOX 17 News. "But we definitely realized there's a bigger need within the community to be more proactive, to have a little bit stronger community outreach. Kind of our motto, it's right out in our front lobby, it says community partnerships for quality future. And that's truly something our department buys into."

Officer Harkema said they're pretty well stocked with items for the initiative, but suggests following the Walker Police Department facebook page for information on upcoming collection drives.