JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Jacksonville community got a treat Saturday thanks to First Stripe, a group that encourages first responders across the country to foster healthy and positive relationships with their communities.
Jacksonville police and special guests spent time with youth in the area during a day of fun filled activities. They started around 10 a.m. Saturday morning and spent time passing out donations in the community. Then officers headed over to Galloway Park to join another group for a special event.
“No matter who you are, no matter what race you are, no matter what color you are it's all about love here,” said Deputy Bryan Woodard from Dallas.
He and other police are building stronger relationships and aim to lead by example.
"I was told years ago, by a retired St. Louis officer, when you can go into a neighborhood every day and you know everyone on a first name basis and they know you, that's when you're doing your job right,” Officer Johnny Hicks said.
Hicks and other police in Jacksonville want to promote respect and foster fellowship.
"Yes, I'm an officer but I'm also your friend. Working together helps us tremendously,” he added.
Hicks wants the people he serves to be able to put a face with the name.
“If you're consistent in being in a certain place all the time, then they know you care about them. They know Officer Hicks because he's been out here every day for six years,” said Deborah Wagner, founder of Mission Jacksonville.
The local nonprofit joined in on the fun at Galloway Park by passing out school supplies, clothes and lots of food.
"I am big on community policing and if I can go to another state and do the exact same thing I do in Texas, it’s worth the drive” Woodard said.
He traveled all the way from Dallas just to join officers in Jacksonville. He admits that establishing community relationships isn’t always easy, but thinks it’s always worth it.
“The more they know you, the more comfortable everyone is. When we drove up, you could see a lot of kids know Officer Hicks and asked him for a hug. It's important to have community policing,” said Woodard.
First Stripe and the officers went to Chili's and then Dave and Busters to cap off their day of service.
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