The Dallas Police Department is continuing its efforts to establish and promote good relationships with the children of Dallas. To that end, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and other officers joined students at John Neely Bryan Elementary for a book fair on Monday.
The officers were on hand to greet the students as they arrived back at school after the long holiday weekend. Some children greeted the officers with smiles, while others took a bit longer to warm up to their presence, Fox 4 News reported. The school mascot, an ‘eagle,’ was there to help break the ice, giving ‘high fives’ and ‘fist bumps’ to the officers.
The uniformed officers read to the students and handed out gift-wrapped books. “A couple of weeks before, the officers started wrapping the books so it will be like a gift. So they can be a little bit excited,” explained Major Juan Salas of the Dallas Police Department.
The school event was a joint effort between the Dallas Police and the Safer Dallas Better Dallas organization, whose mission, in part, is to engage citizens in partnership with Dallas Police and to support the Dallas Police Department. The idea was to help “reframe children’s interactions with law enforcement,” Fox 4 News reported.
Chief Garcia explained, “We were able to give books to the kids and they’re able to see us in a light where we’re not out there enforcing and doing the job our men and women have to do. The hope is that our men and women are looked at as exactly that, as mom, fathers, brothers, sisters, and so that our community sees that we’re more than just handcuffs on our belt. That’s important to us.”
Garcia also stated that “our community needs to see that these officers truly care. They truly care about this city, and they truly care about our victims [of crime], and they truly care about children.”
Throughout the week, officers from the Dallas Police Department will be at John Neely Bryan Elementary school, helping children choose books, and striking up conversations with them. Officers visited the same school at the beginning of the school year to hand out free school supplies to the students, according to the Dallas ISD News Hub.
The Police Department and Safer Dallas Better Dallas are planning more community events in the future.