Rochester, N.Y. – Rochester police officers are now armed with toys.
Police chief James Sheppard has asked his officers to hand out toys to kids they encounter while responding to calls.
“When we go to these houses, these kids are looking at us in a bad light,” said officer Cody Goodfriend.
Sheppard has made bettering police-community relations a priority.
Two years ago, he teamed up with Pirate Toy Fund to collect and give out toys to kids involved in situations in which police are called.
“My goal is to have a long-term relationship with these kids and time will tell how we do with that,” Goodfriend said.
Friday, Goodfriend handed a stuffed animal to a boy walking with his mother and grandmother.
Turns out, the boy recently witnessed his father getting shot and police responding.
“It’s nice to see kids don’t have to be afraid of the cops, they’re here to help, not just scare you,” said Alicia Brown, the boy’s mother.
RPD spokesperson Sgt. Justin Collins said the program has been very successful.
“It needs to be a countywide effort, a statewide effort, because it’s so important,” Collins said.