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Police distribute popsicles to earn community trust (video)

By chirst
Aug. 2, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.
Updated Aug. 3, 2012 at 3:03 a.m.

Chris Guerra, of the Victoria Police Officers Association, talks with kids, from left: Victor Lucio, 10, Madisyn Martin, 7, Coleigh Ross, 3, and Bailey Martin, 9, after the association handed out popsicles at Salem Village Apartments Wednesday evening. The association was working to build a positive relationship between law enforcement and area children.

Kids in the 100 block of Regency swarmed around police officers and volunteers, excited to see them - or at least the popsicles they passed out freely.

Casaibry Cain, 8, paused from her play to slurp up a red popsicle - her favorite - on Wednesday when the Victoria Police Officers Association came to her neighborhood.

Police arrest people, Casaibry said. But, she guessed police also give popsicles to kids "to be helpful and to be nice."

Though Wednesday was the first time the association passed out popsicles, over 100 of them, it was not the first time an officer has given away goodies in the area.

Tanya Brown, patrol officer and member of the VPOA, started passing out ice cream sandwiches to the kids on her own time in 2010.

When she first started, Brown said the children were hesitant to talk to her.

"Now, they all come running out and hug my legs," she said. "They ask for me now."

Brown said she is excited the association is taking over the popsicle operation, because now more volunteers are involved.

Twenty-six people from the association and alumni from the Victoria Civilian Police Academy passed out popsicles Wednesday.

"So many times, they (kids) only see us in a negative way," Brown said. "Someone called the cops, someone got arrested. And we don't want it to be like that. We want them to have a different type of relationship with us."

Jaleal Callis, 2, lives in the area with his mom and grandmother. He pedaled his tricycle around the sidewalk, but quickly abandoned his wheels when he saw Brown. Recognizing her, he went straight to her lap for a hug.

"It is good for them to have somebody other than us out here taking care of them and playing with them," said Jaleal's grandmother, Dionne McDade. "They get excited because we have officers who stop to see them. They really like Tanya (Brown)."

The association and alumni from the Victoria Civilian Police Academy also distributed popsicles at Salem Village Apartments.

Joseph Felan, president of the association, said they will continue to pass out popsicles, and in many different neighborhoods.

"I remember when I was a kid, the officers would give out baseball cards," Felan said. "And it was something I always wanted to do. This is what being an officer is all about ... being a police officer is more than making arrests or answering calls. It is about the community, and we want them to know that."



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