CMPD works to build relationships with local children

FOX 46 Charlotte is getting results with cops and neighbors. One of the most critical times in a young boy’s life is when they’re about ten or 11-years-old. The influences on them are so great in how it can affect who they will become as an adult, in particular the negative influences.

That’s why CMPD’s University City Division is reaching out to a group of fifth graders at Mallard Creek Elementary.

“This was our first field trip and we wanted it to be fun so that they would be interested in the program,” an officer with CMPD said.

Field trip day at Defy Gravity, where leaders from Mallard Creek said they hope the fifth grade boys will defy the odds.

“They need some support in order to ensure that they’re successful in school,” Christina Forney said, dean of students at Mallard Creek Elementary School.

CMPD jumped at the chance to mentor the children who are most impressionable.

“This age group is vulnerable but this group we feel is teachable.”

At this young age boys run the gauntlet of temptation from their peers. It’s a time when they make great strides climbing up the ladder of life, but may fall victim to their surroundings. CMPD said they know it’s important to be there for them.

“We want them to be able to trust us. We want them to know that we’re people just like they are,” an officer said.

The building blocks of any good relationship can be found in trust. It’s been a challenge for far with the boys.

“The perceptions weren’t very positive. So it is really turning around their thoughts about how they interact with the police,” Forney said.

“That’s what makes the difference otherwise they just see police in a different way. They saw somebody get arrested or they were at a store and it got robbed and they saw police in that light. So this is a different light that they’re seeing police in.”

And how do officers respond to the kids’ initial negativity?

“I understand that you feel that way however, I’d like for you to open your mind because not all police officers are bad. We are out here trying to do good things.”

It’s these teachable moments that can only be done with one-on-one interaction in a fun setting. For CMPD, it’s the heart of community policing. And for these boys from Mallard Creek Elementary that’s getting results.

“Exactly! And they are truly excited about this opportunity and that breaks down a lot of barriers. It does. They see them in a different light, they’re not as dressed in their uniforms, and they dress like a normal person, so even when they see them out in the community there’s a different feel now.”