CRESTVIEW — Gordon Martial Arts' "Community for Cops" event on May 6 aimed to bring residents and first responders together — and have fun while doing it.
Officer Mojica of the Crestview Police department said the event, which had numerous children's activities, is particularly important for those in law enforcement; although some people see negative news stories about police officers from other parts of the country and form their opinions, it's important for kids to know those in law enforcement are there to help.
This is the second year that GMA has hosted the event, and it has seen much support from the community.
"This is a good opportunity for the kids to see the police officers in a non-confrontational, happy environment," Thomas Gordon, owner of Gordon Martial Arts, said.
Too often, the first time a child sees a police officer or fireman is under criminal circumstances, he said.
"This is an opportunity for them to come out, they get to play with the dogs, see the guns with the S.W.A.T.," Gordon said.
Officer Jennings, with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, said one issue the OCSO has is parents making police officers seem like the bad guy.
"They'll say the whole 'If you don't listen, he's going to have to take you to jail' thing," Jennings said. "I always look at the parents and say, 'I'll take you to jail before the kid.'"
Community for Cops offered a variety of activities for children, including a dunk tank, face painting and bounce houses and slides. There were several booths with vendors, information about the sheriff's office, door prizes and snow cones.