ESSEX — Baltimore County police officers interacted face to face with dozens of people at a barbecue picnic on Oct. 9 at Trinity Church in Essex, all in an effort to strengthen relationships with the same community that they serve and often worship with. Meanwhile, families enjoyed live music from The Doug Lester Band, a variety of games and activities, including a mechanical bull, and a raffle for a remote-operated Baltimore Ravens cooler, which was the fundraiser for the event.

“Faith-based communities are a pillar in the neighborhoods in which we serve,” chief Melissa Hyatt said to open the event. “By coming together, we are able to build bridges, and develop bonds and trust within the community.”

In 2020, BCPD has opted to participate in a national initiative organized jointly by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and Movement Forward, Inc’s OneCOP initiative. Last weekend, faith-based organizations hosted over 30 events for the initiative, and the Trinity Church held the marquee event.

“God, we are grateful for law enforcement professionals and a church that cares,” church pastor Bob Larson said in an opening prayer, “and we are especially grateful that you have brought these elements together to help celebrate, repair and form relationships that can last beyond today’s festivities.”

“It is our honor to work with Baltimore County police to build mutual trust and respect between law enforcement and the community,” co-pastor and BCPD chaplain Hope Larson said. “God worked everything out today, even more perfectly than we ever could have imagined.”

Local government officials also shared a few words about the importance of improving police-community relations, and said that they were excited to participate in the family-friendly event.

“We know that with God, all things are possible, and this event and this weekend shows how we can make progress together,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “This is the type of event that brings us together and breaks down barriers.”

“I pray for our law enforcement every day, and I pray more than anything that God will protect you as you serve us,” Sen. Johnny Ray Salling said. “I appreciate and care for you, and as a senator, I am there for you.”

“What a joy it is to be here today,” Del. Ric Metzgar said. “This is the day which the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

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