Lexington police officers and their families joined members of the community for a cookout in the sunshine at Douglass Park Saturday afternoon.
Picnic with the Police offered up face-painting, hamburgers with all the trimmings and the opportunity for citizens to get an up-close look at the police department’s helicopter, hazardous devices unit and horses.
The event was hosted by the Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Human Rights Commission as a means of fostering a closer relationship between citizens and police.
Theresa Parks leads the Human Rights Commission’s community relations and public housing committee and took the lead in organizing the picnic.
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She said she wants children to know that “they can contact a police officer and walk up to a police officer and not have any fear.
“I hope the outcome will be better community relations,” Parks said. “That’s the whole goal.”
Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard said officers were encouraged to come in plainclothes and bring their families.
It was a means of “getting to know them as a person versus an officer,” he said.
Everything offered Saturday, from the T-shirts and balloon animals to the shaved ice and hotdogs, was free.
Gerri Mayberry said she had a dual reason for attending the event.
“We’ve got a lot of personal friends that are on the police force, and we live in the neighborhood,” she said. “Anything that they do, I’m going to participate in it.”
Officer Ryan Holland, who is the neighborhood resource officer for the area and is a tactical flight officer on the police helicopter, showed off the helicopter to children who crowded around.
“We’re regular people just like they are,” he said. “We just have a different profession. … It’s good for both sides.”