OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Civil unrest and police reform continue to be hot button issues across the country, which is why police forces all over the nation are taking part in events they say will build bridges.
Officers of all levels headed to a church in south Oklahoma City on Saturday morning to kick off three straight days of events called ‘Faith and Blue.’
“With all the things that have transpired in the last few months, I think things like this are very important for healing and to build trust,” said Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama, of the Oklahoma City Police Department.
The national effort connects law enforcement, faith leaders and citizens. They gather to break bread and start conversations.
Chief Wade Gourley was there to answer questions.
Oklahoma City police officials say they spend more than $5 million-a-year of their budget on community outreach.
On Saturday, police brought possible future members of the force to see how important it is to connect with the community.
“It’s great if one day when they turn 21, if they want to apply and become police officers. We welcome that, we support that. But if they don’t, that’s OK too. We just want them to be great people,” said Balderrama.
The civil unrest that happened nationwide back in April and May also took place in Oklahoma City as well.
Police officials say two different task forces are currently working on ways to make the force more responsive to the needs of their community
“Those protest and those conversations have actually resulted in a lot of positive engagement. Those conversations have brought racism to the forefront where we have to talk about these things because if you don’t talk about them, if you pretend like they don’t exist, then you never make improvements. You never make things better,” said Balderrama.
On Monday, there will be a virtual townhall meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit the police department’s Facebook page for more information.
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