Union City Local 8 members participated in the fourth annual Chill with a Cop event at Meggie’s Ice Cream shop on July 19. The event gave members a chance to connect with residents while they passed out ice cream and interacted with children.
“We want to get the community to come out and spend some time with us,” stated David Tafur, a Local 8 member and event organizer. “Especially the younger kids. These days it’s important for kids to have a positive image of law enforcement. We want them to grow up knowing that we have their best interest at heart and that we support them.”
As the children devoured their ice cream while smiling and posing for pictures with the Local 8 members, parents engaged in conversation with the law enforcement officers and exchanged laughs, something that wasn’t lost on Tafur. “The interaction was incredible and having events like this shows the citizens that we are a part of the community and that they can laugh with us just like anyone else.”
Local 8 has expanded its efforts to become more harmonious with the community in recent years by hosting and partaking in more neighborhood events, which was the catalyst for the Chill with a Cop event to be created five years ago. Some of the other events Local 8 hosts for residents are the Trick or Treat with a Cop event, where cops hand out candy on Halloween, and Bike with a Cop, which is held every year in May, where Local 8 Members teach the neighborhood children about bike safety. Last year, however, most community events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s one reason, Tafur says, that members were especially motivated to partake in the events this year.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say everyone in the department seriously wanted to become involved with the 2021 Chill with a Cop event, because this is what community policing looks like — engagement, conversations and building bridges. And you can just tell the community was happy with the event. Everyone was smiling through their masks, and to bring joy to them, even for 10 minutes with ice cream, through these challenging times, is what being a law enforcement officer is all about. Helping out the neighborhood in whatever way possible.”