‘We are part of the community’: Law Enforcement Appreciation Week ends with food, music and rain

PARKVILLE, Mo. - At Saturday's Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Parade in the Northland, there was plenty to find.

There were bagpipes and horses. SWAT trucks and simulators. Officers from more than 30 agencies showed off the tools of their trade, and handed out goodies.

Six-year-old Mikayla Barlow had a unicorn painted on her arm with a glitter-covered rainbow mane, three police shield stickers on her shirt, and a bag on her back. She said she was "getting fun stuff, and getting tattoos, and stickers and coloring books, and my policemen bag."

Down toward the end of the parking lot at Platte Landing Park, there was Scott LeMaster manning the grill with hot dogs near a drum filled with cotton candy. A man was showing kids how to keep rhythm on a drum.

Across the parking lot, there were dozens of orange cones set up. It outlined the makeshift obstacle course filled with kid-sized cars and hazards.

But look past the instruments and the cars and the candy.

"I think it's just a quick way and an easy way to interact and get to know people, and they get to know us," Chief Kevin L. Chrisman explained.

What Chrisman and the other officers are doing is making a community.

"When you see us in action on the news, you pretty much see some of the negative things," he said. But police do a lot more than that."

Chrisman and two other officers from different agencies founded this event three years ago. "We interact with the community we are part of the community."

That's what made Saturday's event more than just a bunch of cops in a parking lot. A few hundred people came out between the rain storms to do what Mikayla Barlow did.

"Having fun and saying hi to policemen, everybody can be policemen when they grow up and so can women too," the 6-year-old said.

This pop-up community in a park is the best introduction to law enforcement she could have. "I know policemen are very good and policemen take care of our world too."

And the hope is that the three-year tradition continues for several more.

Though, Chrisman was quick to point out each year of the event, it's rained. That may be a tradition organizers hope to break. Saturday's event was cut short due to severe weather moving in.

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