PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Sunday was a special day at Fifth Third Ballpark as 30 children got to attend a game free of charge and hang out with Grand Rapids police officers.
The Cops and Kids Day Out was hosted by the groups Voices for the Badge and Community and Police Relations Network.
Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Payne says the event was all about building relationships.
“It’s really important to have that positive interaction,” Payne said. “Sometimes, unfortunately, in a negative sense is the only time kids are sometimes see us.”
Officers volunteered their time to chaperone the kids. In a relaxed setting, like at a ballgame, officers had a chance to sit and talk with them. Those conversations, to Payne, are priceless.
“I want kids to know that we’re approachable, that you can sit and have a conversation with a police officer and I encourage them to do that,” Payne said. “That is how we will make changes here, that is how we will grow as a community.”
Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack and Johnny Brann, who represents Voices of the Badge, were also instrumental in setting up Sunday’s event. They hope it’ll be the first of many.
“We wanted to put together something positive for the police and kids,” Womack said. “To get the community a chance to see that a lot of the positives things are happening and give kids a chance to meet the officers before they maybe get a ticket down the road or something.”
Not only did the children get to attend the game for free, they also received food and drink vouchers and school supplies.
“For every negative thing we see, there are 100 great things that go unnoticed,” Womack said. “We’re building a trust factor, having a layer of trust and faith is so important.”