A group of about 30 police officers and chaplains set up a tent and invited the denizens of the park and the surrounding area to enjoy the food, something that a few has not been able to do on a daily basis.
“We love to serve the homeless,” said Jack Barrett, chief of the Detroit Chaplain Corps. “We bring food out here and help out. We’ve tried to do this every three months for the last two years.”
“About 400 people showed up last year,” said local businessman Najib Atisha, a board member of Associated of Food and Petroleum Dealers (AFPD), which provided food for the event which consisted of over 500 hundred hot dogs and an equal amount of chips and beverages.
Sgt. Daran Carey felt Cass Park was an excellent place to hold the event.
“This is a good central location,” said Carey. “I think that we can reach more people here than anywhere else in the city. We are out here to support the people. Sometimes the homeless feel that they are forgotten.”
Close to noon, more people got wind of what was happening and came over. A crowd soon formed. Juan Valdez came out after he heard the news from some friends. When he found out that the Detroit Police Department were the benefactors of the generosity, he said he wasn’t surprised.
“In my experience, the police are doing their job,” said Valdez. “My experiences with them have been positive. I feel good about them helping out today.”
A man who preferred to be addressed as “Vernard” was a little surprised by the gesture.
“It’s pretty nice,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
The volunteers who assisted the officers were students enrolled in the Detroit Police Department’s Explorers Program which provides training for the city’s future officers before they enroll in the police academy. Many of them understand that police are not welcomed in many of the city’s communities, confirmed Stephanie Longmire, a Communication Media Arts High School graduate who will attend Bowling Green University in this fall.
“A lot of people were really surprised,” said Longmire, 18. “They appreciated what we were doing. Some people hate the police and there are some crooked cops, but there are many more who want to serve.”
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