Police officers across the United States continued their Christmas engagement traditions, following a year of accusations of brutality from Black Lives Matter.
The Sixth District Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in D.C. continued celebrating Christmas with their community through numerous outreach events.
One event, the department’s annual “Shop With a Cop,” had police officers engaging with children who came from households of five or more and lived in communities with high rates of violent crimes, according to the department’s community outreach coordinator, Julia Irving.
Other yearly traditions for Christmas engagement include Sixth District MPD officers distributing coats and toys in the community and throwing a holiday party for elementary school children.
Irving told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the Sixth District MPD is heavily involved with their community throughout the year and not just at Christmas time. This continued involvement within the community, Irving said, helps strengthen the bonds between police officers and the communities they serve.
Each officer is in the community doing something to bridge that relationship with the community so they have a lot of pro-social interaction with law enforcement as opposed to a negative one,” Irving explained.
As a whole, this past year has been a particularly tough one for law enforcement officers. There have been numerous attacks on them: the July Dallas shooting left five officers dead and four officers were shot in one 24 hour period in November.
These attacks have also been coupled with Black Lives Matter activists accusing officers of police brutality.
Irving told TheDCNF that Black Lives Matter is a powerful movement because it unites people and allows them to have an impact in their communities.
“However, I think that the portrayal of officers has really been detrimental, especially to our officers here at the Metropolitan Police Department. The MPD is a trendsetter in regards to community policing,” Irving said to TheDCNF.
The Longview Police Department in Texas also hosted their community engagement during Christmas. This year, the department continued its Blue Santa Program and partnered up with businesses and organizations to help needy families at Christmas, Officer Kristie Brian told The DCNF.
Officers also kept toys in their cars and handed them out to children, she added.
Brian believes that events like these help to strengthen ties between police officers and the communities they work in.
“It seems like the community is more engaged with us. It’s always nice to do something positive for the community,” Brian said to The DCNF.
The Chicago Police Department also kept up with its annual “Shop With a Cop” event. This year, 60 children went on a shopping trip at a local Toys ‘R’ Us. The children were given about $60 each, and shopped in groups with uniformed officers.
The event is meant to help police officers better connect with citizens in the community, according to Community Outreach Officer Gretchen Chavez.
“Sometimes the kids will come in and they’re not that excited,” Chavez explained. “Then their hesitation to be with the police kind of wears off.”
Moshay, a 14 year old girl, called her shopping trip with the officers a “wonderful experience.”
“You don’t really talk to police officers on a regular basis. It helps to not judge a book by its cover,” Moshay said.
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