An event co-sponsored by Lutheran Housing Support (LHS), the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), St. Paul Lutheran Church, and other community partners, “Safe Zone” is one of many events designed to build relationships between the community and St. Louis Metropolitan Police and the St. Louis Fire Department. As a part of our Neighborhood Ownership Model, LHS planned the event in an effort to strengthen our commitment to fostering a relationship with Saint Louis Public Schools and the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department. More pressing, organizers hoped to develop stronger bonds between students and law enforcement.
On Friday September 25, 2015, Lutheran Housing Support and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in partnership with Bryan Hill School conducted a Safe Zone on the playground at the school. Bryan Hill grade school has an enrollment of 185 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. “Safe Zone” is a community outreach event that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police has utilized in other communities similar to College Hill. At a time when there is a lack of trust in urban communities between children and public servants such as the police, Safe Zone events help to build positive community relationships.
“It’s important that children build safe, strong relationships with police officers in their communities,” said Fred Kimbrough, Director of Projects and Lending for LHS. The event also served to strengthen relationships with those who are also “on the ground” in College Hill including Grace Hill Settlement House and the College Hill Foundation, who partnered with LHS on the event. Grace Hill provides a broad range of social services to residents in College Hill. The College Hill Foundation is a relatively new community-based development organization that is working to support the restoration of the College Hill neighborhood to a family-friendly, safe, and prosperous community. An important part of the LHS model is working to raise up local community organizations such as these.
Dr. Briscoe, the principal at Bryan Hill, as well as the teachers and staff appreciated the event. More importantly, the students were able to meet and greet the police officers, helping to make sure that children view police as protectors vs. enemies. The children got an up close and personal view of the equipment that the department utilizes such as the bomb unit robot, all terrain vehicle, bicycles, motorcycle, traffic car and other automobiles. The Saint Louis Fire Department was a hit, especially when they opened up the fire hose. In addition to St. Louis’ finest, the kids also had access to a bounce house and a mobile Thomas the Train. “Sam Safety”, the Police mascot, was in attendance as well. A DJ kept everyone moving– including Dr. Briscoe! Those in attendance feasted on buttery popcorn and refreshing snow cones. Students were sent-off with Sam Safety coloring books, junior police badge stickers, parent guides for gun safety, bags of candy, and SLMPD book bags and water bottles.
This was the first time the Safe Zone had been held at Bryan Hill. The event was hugely successful and will continue moving forward. The next community outreach event to be held at the school will be Breakfast with Santa on December 5, 2015.