Richmond Police hope to strengthen community relationship with annual summer camp

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – After a year off – a year filled with tension between the people and police – the Richmond Police Department’s annual summer camp has returned.

“I hope that by the end of the camp we’ll be able to build that bond where they’ll tell us anything that’s on their heart,” Richmond Police Department Lieutenant Josh Hale said.

But it’s only the first week, so Hale said they have plenty of time over the next month.

He said he knows last year officers faced a lot of criticism, and they still do, but he says Richmond Police will continue building relationships with the community and a big part of that is the annual summer camp.

Hale says kids get to interact with officers in a variety of roles, go on daily field trips and are given food to take home each weekend to fight food insecurity.

“No matter what’s going on nationally, we really do try to keep the same message for what we’re doing,” Hale said. “We’ve always been a community outreach agency.”

The rain kept the campers inside Thursday. They were supposed to paint a mural near Lake Reba in celebration of the Fourth of July, but instead watched a movie. One trio of young teens didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m not good at painting,” Katie Hardin said.

“I like painting, but I wanted to watch this movie so win-win,” Kamarie Perry said.

“I like painting, but I’ve never seen this movie and I really wanted to watch it,” Olivia Baker said.

They’ve each been at the camp for a few summers and say their favorite activities include bowling, going to Reds games and swimming.

They say the camp also teaches leadership and life skills.

“Not to change yourself for anybody else to fit in,” Hardin said of what she learned. “Be yourself and treat others kindly and to not judge them – that’s what I’ve learned,” Baker said.

The girls say they know community relationships with police are sometimes tense across the country, and they hope a setting like this can create the space to gain more trust.

They shared some questions they’ll ask this summer:

“What made them want to become a police officer and protect the community,” Baker asked.

How much they get judged for it,” Hardin added.

The number of campers was cut down this year as a precaution.

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