Residents, officers enjoy casual setting to strengthen relationships
Residents of Homewood and police officers from Zone 5 were encouraged to attend an event called “Meet the Beat Cop” Saturday.
The two groups from the zone’s most affected neighborhoods had the opportunity to talk over breakfast of coffee and bagels Saturday morning. The event was an opportunity for the community and police to say hello and enjoy casual discussion together, rather than air grievances.
“Meet the Beat Cop” is a new effort in attempt to strengthen community and police relationships.
The effort was put together by a group known as “The Coalition,” which is made up of several gun violence prevention and community groups, such as the Coalition for Fathering Families, CeaseFiePa, the office of Ed Gainey, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, The Church Exodus, Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC), and the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP.)
Larry Darnell Davis Sr. is the CEO of the Coalition for Fathering Families and part of the coalition.
“We needed to do something to heal the relationship between the police and the community,” said Davis. “We want to make sure we make a positive relationship with the officers in our communities.”
Michael Gay, community resource officer of Zone 5 agrees.
“Not everybody in the community is a criminal and at the same time, not every officer out here is a bad officer. It’s a very small percentage on both sides,” said Gay. “Once we’re able to address and acknowledge that, then we’ll be able to move forward.”
Gay believed the community reception of Saturday’s event was very positive.
The coalition intends to hold the same event in each zone throughout the city, now that the first is complete. Davis also said they want the police to meet with children in schools and for children to know the officers by name.
“It’s crucial because you want to feel safe in your community,” said Davis.