HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of people of all ages gathered Wednesday at the playground near Fourth and Emerald streets for hot dogs, hamburgers, and milkshakes.
The cookout is among several that police will host in various neighborhoods this summer. Corporal Josh Hammer says the events are designed to do more than just provide good food for a couple of hours.
“Last year was amazing,” Hammer said. “We saw residents come out and meet their neighbors. Some residents didn’t know who their neighbors, so this is a good opportunity for them to get to know each other.”
Blake Lynch, the police bureau’s community outreach coordinator, says the goal is to build trust between everyday people and police officers. He says making a connection does not happen overnight, and they want to help strengthen the foundation throughout the city.
“We have connected better with the school district and local colleges, so anything we can do to double down on our commitment to the community remains a high priority,” Lynch said.
Anthony Burnett is the founder of the grassroots organization LOOP Boyz & Girlz that helps keeps young people on the right track to reach their goals. He says they decided to co-host the cookout because it is a step in the right direction.
“It opens up a line of communication between police and residents,” Burnett said. “It is important because we want the children to be comfortable interacting with our police officers to help keep our community safer.”