Hundreds of adults and children took part in a unique block party on Friday afternoon, Oct. 8, 2021, as a part of the 2021 National Faith and Blue weekend. The party was a community outreach event for the Gwinnett County Police Department in conjunction with Buford Church of God.
“This (the Faith and Blue event) is important to me because this is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage the community in a safe, comfortable environment where they can see us here interacting with their children, with our own children here,” GCPD North Precinct Commander Joel Whitt said. “It’s important for us to have conversations with people and for them to know that they can approach us whenever they need help. That is what we hope will enable, and further that sense of community and sense of closeness that we wish to have with our community members.”
The event, which was held in the parking lot of Buford Church of God, had members of the Gwinnett County Police Department’s aviation unit, SWAT, motorcycle unit and patrol unit present to interact with members of the community. People were able to get to know their local law enforcement officers and get the chance to see some of their equipment up close. Children were able to sit on the police motorcycles as officers explained the features of the bikes.
Perhaps the most popular piece of equipment the Gwinnett Police Department brought out to the event was one of the department’s helicopters referred to as “Air One.” Two officers from the aviation department were on hand to tell residents about the many features of the aircraft.
“Where our office is, the public doesn’t get to see what we do. Maybe they might see a black speck up in the air,” said Captain C.R. King of the GCPD’s aviation unit. “This is really a good day for us to come out and interact with the public, to show them the technology that is theirs, that belongs to the citizens of Gwinnett.”
It was not just the Gwinnett County Police Department that wanted to get out and interact with members of the community. Dan Branch, director of public safety for the city of Buford, and Diane King, director of public safety for the city of Sugar Hill, also came out to the event.
“It’s important for us to be out here in the community and the reason is because we need to establish relationships with our faith leaders here in the city and in the county,” Branch said. “This envelopes into trust among our citizens especially with what has gone on in the past three years.”
“It’s been an awesome opportunity to be a part of this and to meet residents of the city of Buford, as well as the city of Sugar Hill,” King said. “Also to maintain that camaraderie with the officers of Gwinnett.”
The Buford Church of God provided the location, as well as 250 meals for the officers and members of the community. Cotton candy and bouncy houses were also provided by the church. Approximately 50 volunteers from the church were on hand to help make the event a success.
“When I wrapped my head around it with the church and the police department and the community all coming together I thought how important of an event is this,” said Bob Trejo, the children’s ministry pastor at Buford Church of God. “It helps the kids in our church to befriend police officers which I think is so important. Just help for our community to help let people know that we are all on the same page.”
This Faith and Blue event is part of a much larger mission to “facilitate safer, stronger, and more unified communities by connecting law enforcement officers and residents through local faith-based and community organizations,” according to the organization’s website.
Faith and Blue is a part of the One Congregation One Precinct initiative, which is a program of Movement Forward Inc. Movement Forward is an organization focused on bringing law enforcement together with local houses of worship to bridge the gap in communities and law enforcement.
From Oct. 8 to 11, 2021, there will be approximately 2,000 events like this one where law enforcement works with local faith-based organizations to foster community goodwill. There will be more than 10 events throughout Gwinnett County this weekend as part of the Faith and Blue weekend.
For more information about the National Faith and Blue Weekend, visit faithandblue.org.