MERRIAM, Kan. — The city of Merriam is looking at ways to curb crime by teaming up with the community.

Music, hoola hoops, a bouncy house and pressing buttons inside a Merriam police car that are usually off limits.

It’s all part of forging a bond between the police force and the community.

Kids weren’t shy getting into the back of the patrol car.

“They don’t really get an opportunity to do so,” Cameron Price said.

“It’s fun that it’s in this context,” Lauren Price said.

Cameron and Lauren Price appreciate the focus on relationship building.

Chief Darren McLaughlin says Merriam is only four and a half square miles and 11,000 people.

However, they cover I-35, Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive, which brings a lot of transient traffic through Merriam.

In August, police say there was a crash on I-35 that led to road rage. A man smashed another driver’s window with a hammer.

“We have a lot of people who come through Merriam everyday,” McLaughlin said. “Our goal is to be in those areas where crime is most likely to happen, like during the day, like shopping centers. You know at night it’s in places where there’s concentrations of property that can be stolen, like apartment complexes or businesses that are closed.”

He says the key to do that is community engagement.

The chief says the majority of complaints heard Tuesday night were traffic related.

Ashley Cummings find peace here in nature and the noise. She’s taking a practice test for the ACT and is open to help from officers.

“I’m able to focus and enjoy the air and the music going on and there’s food,” she said.

Cummings says officers passed the test Tuesday night, building relationships with the people they protect and serve.

“Them showing that they want to be a part of it definitely helps to like make a more trustworthy community,” she said.

McLaughlin says that’s when everybody wins.