The summer season has just begun and the Rockford Police Department is offering community programs to the city’s youth to keep them busy when they’re not in school.
“We get a chance to get to know the kids, mentor the kids, let them see that police officers are real people, and we develop relationships with them,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke.
It’s not only a way for kids to get out and about but the community programs helps keep them active while trying to bridge the gap between the community and the police.
“We try to set up different events, different sessions, so that we can continue to try and have them stay active and don’t get bored,” said community leader Marcus Hill.
10-year-old student Tianna Chester lives in the Orton Keyes neighborhood.
“It’s actually kind of nice playing with the police officers because they are good sports, and stuff,” she said.
While the summer is just beginning, Dalke hopes that good interactions will help the department in the long run as they police some of Rockford’s toughest neighborhoods.
“When you go out, and you’re actually working and, let’s say you ride by their house and what-not, you’re actually able to get out and have a relationship with them,” Dalke said. “It’s a very quick transition with them to meet their parents, so it really helps solidify the trust with the community and police department.”
The Rockford Police Department regularly posts updates on their latest community events on their Facebook page.