Ogden PD launches Tacos in the Park effort, focusing on ‘Relationship Building’ | News, sports, jobs

Tim Vandinak, Standard Examiner

Crystal Hicks, front left, and her daughter Raylene eat tacos with Community Police Officer Bo Ellis, rear left, and Detective Jim Williams at Jefferson Park on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The occasion was the Ogden Police Department’s outreach efforts for tacos. in the park. .

Ogden – Civilians were mingling with the police and eating tacos and talking.

“The goal is to go to where people are and chat with them rather than asking them to come to us,” said Eric Young, Ogden Police Chief. “It’s just about building relationships.”

Detective Jim Williams, who was sitting on a picnic in the suite in Jefferson Park with a local mother and daughter, said police outreach efforts also helped humanize the officers. “This is a way we can show that we are real people,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Ogden Police Department hosted its second new outreach effort from Tacos in the Park, drawing in neighbors the prospect of free tacos and seizing the occasion to foster closer relationships with the public. After freezing such personal activities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department is now restarting and operating it.

Last month, the department also resumed its Morning Coffee with OPD initiative, meeting with audiences at Coffee Links, Ogden’s Café.

Tim Vandinak, Standard Examiner

A group of Ogden Police officers speak with each other at the Ogden Police Department’s outreach effort Tacos in the Park at Jefferson Park in Ogden on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

“The key thing is to get out and make sure we build those positive community relationships,” said Diana Lopez, the police department’s community outreach coordinator.

Some people may have complaints, which she will listen to, but perhaps most importantly, she hopes that those who participate in them go with the feeling that the police are there to serve and protect. “Hopefully families will remember that, the kids will remember that,” she said, and that they would feel comfortable calling the police when needed.

Community Police Officer William Kirchner, who enjoys a beat in the neighborhood around Jefferson Park, echoed that sentiment. “We’re just here to do something and keep them safe,” he said.

More Tacos in the Park and Morning Coffee are scheduled with OPD events at locations around Ogden. The first Tacos in the Park event was held last month in Liberty Park, and is also scheduled for August and September while the weather will determine if more are scheduled in the fall.

Crystal Hicks, who lives around Jefferson Park, was in Jefferson Park with her 4-year-old daughter Raylene, sitting with Williams and Bo Ellis, a community police officer.

Tim Vandinak, Standard Examiner

Tania Rodriguez of Los Churros del Norte prepares tacos for those attending the Ogden Police Department’s Tacos at outreach efforts at Jefferson Park in Ogden on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

“My daughter wants to be a policeman when she grows up,” Hicks said, so she wanted to make sure the little girl—who also dreams of being a firefighter and gardener—could mingle with the officers.

Furthermore, Hicks noted some’s cautious view of the police, saying that events like Tacos in the Park can help thaw relationships. “Especially with everything that’s going on right now, kids who interact positively with the police can change their perception of them,” she said.

Another man – who declined to be named, worried about a backlash from neighbors – praised the Ogden police effort. He cited some local issues – loud public debate, drug use and dogs running off leashes. In fact, some weeks he will find upwards of 10 used syringes while walking his dog.

“It’s not just here in the park. It’s the whole neighborhood,” he said.

Young said there is no way to measure whether these outreach efforts lead to a reduction in crime. “But I know that building relationships is important,” he said.

Tim Vandinak, Standard Examiner

Community Police Officer William Kirshner poses for a photo at the Ogden Police Department’s Tacos in the Park for outreach efforts at Jefferson Park in Ogden on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. His police beating includes the neighborhood surrounding the park.

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