‘Lunch Patrol’ program forms trust with kids and cops

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – School is out and food programs are getting ready to start across the city. One at the Renaissance Pointe YMCA will have some extra guests–police officers. They aren’t there to patrol. They’re there to have fun.

“It’s not always business,” FWPD Sgt. Jim Seay said. “We can have fun too.”

At the Lunch Patrol kickoff Friday at the Renaissance YMCA on Bowser Avenune police and firefighters were there to show the kids they’re just like them.

“Showing them they are human just like they are,” Renaissance Pointe YMCA Executive Director Amos Norman said. “They’re here for them and they’re approachable. That’s the most important thing. You want them to understand at any time you can go up to our law enforcement.”

“It is very important to build the trust because so often the only time many of these kids see us is when we’re sent to their home for a call for service,” Seay said.

But after Friday the officers aren’t disappearing. Seay said as the program continues into the summer, when they can, officers patrolling the area will stop to say hi to the kids.

“[My son] got his [police] badge, he was excited about that,” Parent Shaniqueca Williams said. “He got his sister a badge. It was important to see [police] out here interacting and having a good time, and showing all of them aren’t bad.”

The Summer Feeding Program is one of several across the city that will provide kids under 18 a free lunch five days a week until school starts again. For parents like Williams programs like these fill a void when school is no longer providing lunch.

“Around this time of year when school is out people do struggle to find food and feed their kids,” Williams said. “To be right down the street, this is great.”

Lunch patrol is a partnership between the Renaissance Pointe YMCA, Fort Wayne Police and Fire and Community Harvest Food Bank.