“Wooder Ice Wit’ a Cop” – Riverwards Residents Rally to Show Support for Local Law Enforcement
The recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by the tragic deaths of five Dallas police and transit officers, has polarized America. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is willing to spin situations like these tragedies to fit whichever world view you subscribe too.
The reality is that most people on either side of the debate surrounding law enforcement and community policing are peaceful. To highlight this, officers from the 24th Police District invited the community to Powers Park, in the heart of Port Richmond, to have “Water Ice With a Cop.”
The smell of freshly baked soft pretzels saturated the thick summer air at the event. A line of kids grew longer in anticipation of the officers peeling off the lids to the containers of water ice. Three officers took turns dishing out scoops to a crowd of excited children, while other officers sat with mustard-faced kids at the park tables.
According to John Kalicki, President of the Powers Park Conservancy, this event was planned well in advance of the recent tragic events. “We actually planned this event months ago,” Kalicki said.
Kalicki’s organization has turned Powers Park into a clean green space for anyone to enjoy. “You see all the faces, it has that neighborhood vibe,” Kalicki said. He attributes much of the park’s success to a positive relationship with the 24th district. “The officers have always treated us well here,” Kalicki said. “They’ve really been a great partner turning the park around.”
Captain Daniel O’Connor of the 24th Police District believes events like this are crucial in showing people at a young age that the police are there to protect the community, but it’s also fun for him and his officers.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids faces… We have a blast doing it,” Captain O’Connor said. “It allows us to interact with our community and for them to talk to us. Were on the same level, there’s no police cars. It goes a long way to building a rapport with the community.”
Captain O’connor also believes it’s not only important for the community to see the officers in a positive light, but is a great opportunity for his officers to see the community in a positive way as well.
“The parents see us in a positive light and we see them in a positive light, so it benefits both ways. Everything we do here is to make kids safe and this is just another step forward,” Captain O’Connor said. “If they see us smiling and giving them water ice and joking with them, they’ll be less apprehensive when they need our help.”
Kalicki also believes it’s important to have positive police and community events like this.
“This event is even better because the youngsters get to see the police in a non threatening manner which is how they should see them. It’s good for them to see them in a different method where they realize yes you can go to them,” Kalicki said. “They are normal people who are here to help, and believe it or not that’s what the majority of them are. They do an excellent job especially around here.”