COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An organization started after the death of a Midlands police officer is now no more, but a special announcement Monday has made sure what is taking its place is even bigger.
Kassy Alia's husband, Forest Acres Police officer Greg Alia, was killed in the line of duty over two years ago. Monday, she traveled back to the location where it happened to announce "Heroes in Blue" will change to "Serve and Connect."
Where Heroes in Blue helped law enforcement and their families, the goal now is to push further, increasing partnerships between the community, organizations, and police.
She showed WIS how her mission will act like the glue we desperately need to fix our communities.
In a small room at Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, a meeting took place. It included the executive director of the coalition, Angela McDuffie, Frederick Hogsett, Jr., who works with the Coalition and Springdale Police Chief, Kevin Cornett. The discussion began with Hogsett, Jr., addressing the room that includes Kassy Alia as well.
"My father was shot when I was five years old, in the projects of Saint Louis, so I never had a father. I never had a relationship with law enforcement unless it was after a basketball game and there was a shooting maybe," said Hogsett.
During the meeting, others like Cornett chimed in.
"I grew up in a broken home. I had moments where I didn't have a dad, or I had moments where I someone step in that gap where they didn't necessarily have to," said Cornett.
The conversations include similarities but also the challenges police and community members face with each other.
"Sometimes the guys think that everybody is their enemy," said Hogsett.
"There's a trust factor that we've got to get through from law enforcement side, from the community side," said Cornett.
Alia, in her new venture, will serve as a mediator to help bridge these similarities and challenges with the help of police departments and organizations.
"How do we make sure that that, caring approach to policing is present in communities that often only see police when something bad is happening?" said Alia.
"And if we don't start just talking and actually providing the resources, then it's going to be a continual in a cycle," said McDuffie.
They are all searching for ways that will help improve the lives of police and people in our local communities.
Hogsett, Jr., a father that went through the coalition's program after an intervention, suggests that if more police take time and reach out, positive change can exist.
"I had a CO tell me one time when he was fingerprinting me, I don't want to see you in here again. You're better than this," said Hogsett, Jr.
"There's a way out, we don't have to keep digging, we can build a bridge," said Cornett who wants to increase positive policing.
These are all solutions and a dialogue that will take a village to accomplish, but they must start somewhere.
"Seeing the opportunity that could have been if we were able to help him before he killed my husband. Yes, it's an uphill battle and, yes, it's hard, but if we don't do something, people will continue to have their lives destroyed," said Alia.
For them, anything and everything is necessary to help tackle the bigger picture of police-community relations.