WINONA LAKE – The purpose of the first Faith & Blue event in Winona Lake, held at the Miller Sunset Pavilion Saturday, was to build relationships between law enforcement officers and the community.
Phillip Hawks, school resource officer at Lakeland Christian Academy, said Faith & Blue is a national event. Normally, a police department partners up with a local church to bridge the gap between the community. It is the only organization across the nation that actually brings the church as the host group to help bridge the gap in the community.
Steve Harper, executive pastor at Community Grace Brethren Church in Warsaw, said Faith & Blue is an opportunity to bring law enforcement and the community together and the churches’ role was to be the bridge in that process.
“So our opportunity here is to work together as the big C church and have the community and law enforcement come together and all spend time together and build relationships,” he said.
There were at least five churches in attendance, including Church of the Good Shepherd, Community Grace Brethren Church and Winona Lake Grace Church.
Harper said the churches’ role was to serve food, watch the kids in bouncy houses, etc.
Alisha and Lizbeth Gomez enjoy some time at the Faith & Blue event at the Miller Sunset Pavilion in Winona Lake Saturday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
Lunch was served and there were free T-shirts for attendees. There also were ice cream and hot chocolate.
People were able to interact with the local law enforcement officers. Hawks said law enforcement officers at the event were from Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Pierceton Police Department, Warsaw Police Department, Winona Lake Police Department and Indiana State Police.
Hawks said the hope from Saturday’s event was to bridge the gap and to let everyone know it takes both sides to make everything work well. He said it’s done with respect on both sides.
Harper said the hope is to give people an opportunity to sit down and talk to each other. Law enforcement officers are more than a uniform and there’s a person behind that uniform. The hope is for community members to get to know law enforcement officers and get involved.
Hawks said Saturday’s event was the first Faith & Blue event and he hopes future events get bigger and better. He hopes there’s better engagement between law enforcement and the community and better support for each other.