VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The Valdosta Police Department is continuing its efforts to increase the relationship between community members and law enforcement.
With upcoming events like Shop with a Cop and Police Santa, VPD is hoping that this will be an icebreaker for youth interacting with cops for the first time.
Crimes by young people have increased this year in Valdosta, so police hope these events will fight crime while also changing the perception of law enforcement.
"This is a good way for our police to interact in a positive way with our kids, so they can hopefully remember, that hey, these officers are just like firefighters, they're here to help you," said Police Chief Brian Childress.
Childress said that more times than not, cops get a bad reputation due to the nature of their jobs.
"The negative connotation with police is that sometimes we have to arrest people, sometimes we have to write people tickets and of course all of the stuff going on around the country, the climate has not been the best for law enforcement," explained Childress.
Childress said that he believes there is a disconnect between the community and law enforcement and that it's going to take both sides to make things better.
"It needs to start with the police, like these programs, but I also believe that there needs to be a two-way street, it's going to have to be some hard work and dialogue to bring those two entities together," said Childress.
Shop with a Cop is set for December 18.
VPD said it has raised more money than ever before that will go to 40 kids.
Each child will be able to spend about $200 and a pizza party will follow.
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