YCPD block party is 'what we need to show our country'
- The block party in front of the YCPD was attended by hundreds of people.
- Locals applauded police interaction with the public.
Two weeks ago, the Rev. Larry T. Walthour II helped organize an event at Shiloh Baptist Church to discuss police-community relations in light of recent officer-involved shootings elsewhere and the retaliatory attack that claimed the lives of five Dallas police officers.
Members of the York City Police Department were invited but could not attend because of scheduling issues.
On Thursday, York City residents, elected officials and on- and off-duty police officers came together for a block party in front of the police station to help unite the community.
"This is what we need to show our country," Walthour said.
The York United Block Party, themed Unity for our Community, blocked off a portion of the road in front of the station on West King Street from 6 to 8 p.m. Hundreds of people came out and were treated to food, music, face-painting, balloon animals and more.
Police interaction: The block party was organized by York City Councilwoman Sandie Walker, who is the council's liaison to the police department. She said she helped bring the event up to the department, and police officials were interested. The party was put together in just a week. Walker estimated about 50 officers were in attendance.
York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said having the party in front of the station was something they had not done before, and the police were happy with the response the block party was getting.
"We are always open to interacting positively with the public," he said.
He said he hoped the block party will help spur conversation with the community going forward.
Community: Many community members agreed that police interaction was a good thing for the public. Walthour said having police interact with children showed them that the police are there to serve and protect.
"We might be looking at the next generation of police officers," he said.
Artrella Benjamin and Derrick Dixon, both of York City, brought their daughter to the event. The family was enjoying the police interaction with those in attendance.
"It's a welcome experience; it needs to happen more often," Dixon said, adding that seeing the department put out the effort to make the event happen meant a lot.
Benjamin said the police appearance helped make them more approachable to the people they serve.
"I definitely give them a thumbs-up," she said.
Lettice Brown, a community activist with the city's anti-violence group, said having the police out with people and kids, showing them they are on their side, was a positive thing.
"I'm hoping a lot of good comes from this," she said.
Brown also commended the York City School District Police for coming to the party, saying that they are the ones kids in the district will interact with often. Chief Michael Muldrow said coming to events such as the party and being part of the community are things they like to do.
"It's a core marching order of our department anyway," he said.
He said their involvement in the community helps people get to know who they are and builds respect.
Walthour said he had had positive conversations with several police officials. He commended city and county officials for coming to the block party.
"Every element of our community has converged in one location to make a statement," he said. "That statement is we are one united York City."
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.