"As a police officer, it's an absolute joy to work for a department that cares so much about the community, especially the one in which I grew up," says Lieutenant Demarquis Black of the Dallas Police Department.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Black has always had positive contact with law enforcement. As a youth, Black began speaking with an off-duty officer at the local grocery store.
"I never knew his name but he was always friendly and had encouraging words for me. That officer laid the foundation that sparked my interest in becoming a police officer," says Black. "He encouraged me to become an officer who could plant the seed into a child that police officers are our friends."
The Dallas Police Department has continually spread this message at events such as the youth forum entitled "Let's Talk." This event provided a platform for police officers and youth to come together and talk about recent events and the vacillating relationship between law enforcement and communities locally and nationwide. This forum targeted 10 to 15 year-olds and afforded young people a special opportunity to engage with police officers in a controlled setting. "Let's Talk" even concluded with officers in full uniform, joyfully dancing to the Whip/Nae Nae.
"Let's Talk made me feel that there is a positive connection between police and youth: one that's not seen or even experienced on a daily basis," says Black. The police are always working to help the Dallas community, and they are thankful to be faced with an overwhelming amount of support.
"The Dallas community can aid the police department by taking advantage of the various community engagement events hosted by local police departments," says Black. "As it relates to the citizens of Dallas, the Dallas Police Department hosts community events year-round on a very regular basis: we even have a whole unit at each patrol division dedicated to the needs of the neighborhood."
Some of the community events hosted by the Dallas Police Department include the following: "Chief on the Beat," a health and safety fair held at various locations across the city; "Coffee with Cops," a morning java break with free coffee for the public to enjoy as they voice their concerns within their community; and of course the country-wide law enforcement event: "National Night Out."
These events connect the citizens of Dallas with law enforcement officials, generating a sense of respect and commitments on both ends, but one also gets a sense that it's the smaller moments that help police officers to connect with citizens: those special moments between kids and off-duty cops that fly under the public's radar.