ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A block party is aiming to build stronger bonds between local police and the people they serve. The United Way’s Strong Neighborhood parties usually happen earlier in the summer, but COVID-19 pushed the dates back. Organizers say a lot of planning went into the party to build relationships safely.
“Now I get to know the same people and that’s important,” explained Community Service Officer Matt Williams of the Rockford Police Department.
United Way of Rock River Valley and the Rockford Police Department hosted their first Strong Neighborhood Block Party of the year Wednesday evening.
“This is our first one this year due to the pandemic issues and some of the logisitcs that went into it,” Officer Williams said.
“We really wanted to roll out really small for this one, this is just kind of getting our feet wet a little bit for the summer,” explained Gina Meeks, a coordinator for the United Way of Rock River Valley.
There was a K9 demonstration and plenty of bike riding. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and snow cones were provided to Ellis Heights residents.
“I like that people are coming to the strong house, meeting new people and bringing people together,” explained Kennay Taylor & Officer Patrice Turner.
Those who organize the event say they want to help foster relationships.
“An opportunity to build relationships with the police officers in the community,” Meeks added.
“It’s turned into a great way of meeting people and them meeting us and getting those relationships together,” said Officer Williams. “This is our important functions that we do as a community service unit and as a police department..” 1442
Both officers and community members say they look forward to going to the block parties every year.