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‘More important now than it’s ever been’: CPD teams up with local church to build community relationships

Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia Police Department held its second annual Faith and Blue event Sunday afternoon to build relationships between police officers and community members.

Chief Skip Holbrook says having a strong bond with the community is a priority, and not having a strong level of trust puts a strain on his department.

He says it makes it less likely for people to report crimes or tips so the department can hold individuals accountable and keep the community safe.

“Any opportunities we have to help us build trust is just so important. More important now than it’s ever been,” said Holbrook. “The communities that need us the most often mistrust us the most, so it’s an icebreaker for us.”

The department offered free burgers, hotdogs, and ice cream to any community member who stopped by City of Refuge Church in North Columbia. The event also featured games for kids and cops alike.

“Every contact is a chance for us to leave a lasting impression—a positive lasting impression,” said Holbrook.

Holbrook says it’s typically more difficult for officers to build bonds with residents in North Columbia neighborhoods, so City of Refuge was a good place to find common ground.

“To me, this was a no-brainer. Any time we can intersect our faith community, our young adults, our community in general, our law enforcement, that’s something we’ve got to do,” said Holbrook.

Pastor Jarrian Wilson knows the area and its people well.

“This is a neighborhood that’s misunderstood,” said Wilson. “They’re given a bad slogan because of a bad few moments, but really this is a community of people who care for each other, who stand by each other. They’re resilient.”

Wilson says the event is a way to humanize law enforcement.

“It’s getting beyond the badge and actually seeing the person who says ‘I care about you and I see you for you,’” said Wilson.

Holbrook was pleased with the turnout Sunday and hopes to continue building bridges with communities in Columbia through similar community outreach events year-round.

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