WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF)– Typically, run-ins with law enforcement are not a good thing– But Saturday in Waynesboro, the Police Department and Sheriff’s Office came together to have fun with the community.
“We chose this location based on statistics. We’ve had a lot of crime in this area, and some violent crime as well,” Chief Lewis Blanchard with Burke County Sheriff’s told me.
Magnolia Acres is a low-income housing community in Waynesboro. Chief Blanchard said most of the crime that happens here is caused by people who don’t live in the area, though, making it a great place for the event. Residents had the chance to share their concerns.
Officers spent their Saturday getting to know the people they serve– they ate together, talked with one another and even spent one-on one time with kids. Waynesboro Police Chief Augustus Palmer told me Satrurdays event brings back memories.
“I was raised in the City of Augusta, and I lived across the street from a project,” Chief Palmer said. “It was different on one side of the street as apposed to the other. If you went over in the projects, police were the enemy, but if you went over in the residential, police were friends.”
But he said no matter where you live, police are always your friend.
Chief Blanchard believes when law enforcement and community members come together, it has the potential to break down walls and untrue stereotypes: “Together we can make a much stronger impact. When the police officers know the citizens, and when the citizens feel like they know a police officer by name, they are more apt to talk with us and give us information to make their community better.”
He explained one of the reasons why Burke County Officers and Waynesboro police reach out the their area kids: “You know law enforcement is at a critical mass in some areas as far as getting people to go into the profession, so we have to reach out to our young people and make sure there are plenty of cops for the future as well.”
Chief Palmer said most police officers are no different than you. “Oftentimes we come in in an enforcement type capacity,” Chief Palmer told me. “We are here to show them we are individuals just as they are with one goal.”
“We do love our community. The majority of us live here, and if not, very close. We want the community to be the best it can be,” Chief Blanchard concluded.