Officers, citizens bond at National Night Out

Posted at 10:12 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 23:27:18-04

Milwaukee is one of 17,000 cities in the U.S. participating in National Night Out. It's an effort to bring families and police officers together. This year's celebration has special significance. It comes at a challenging time, after a series of police-involved shootings and violent crimes across the country.

Police officers and the people they serve: building trust and fostering friendship.

"Today was just a great day," says Charnell Turner. "I really enjoyed myself. This event is a step in the right direction for our city."

Turner was one of many who took the opportunity to get to know law enforcement officers better at a National Night Out block party at Harley Davidson Headquarters Tuesday.

"I had a chance to talk to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn personally and share my views with him about safety," she says. "I told them his officers are doing a good job. It's important for our young people to be out here, and to see that there are good cops. Everybody's not bad. You can trust them."

That's exactly what Milwaukee Police Captain Shunta Boston-Smith likes to hear. She grew up in the neighborhood, and wants to set the record straight.

"Police work means you have to love working with people," she says. "We want to impact lives. We are truly here to assist you. A lot of times we get a bad wrap. Someone meets one officer, or has one negative experience, and we're all painted with that same paint brush. We're not all like that. We are here for the community."

The trust of the community is the biggest crime-fighting resource police officers can have. That's why this event, and others like it, help make all the difference.

"We got a lot of thank you's, which was really sweet," Capt. Boston-Smith says. "I saw a lot of parents urging their kids to come up and talk to us. That means a lot for us."

Other National Night Out events this week:

3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Peter-Immanuel Lutheran Church, 7801 W. Acacia St.

4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Hillside Resource Center, 1452 N. 7th St.

6 p.m. Thursday at Ohio Park, 1010 W. Ohio Ave.

6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Kops Park, 3321 N. 86th St.