Officer Santa: Dallas Police Deliver
Officer Santa: Dallas Police Chief Delivers Meals On Wheels
Date: Dec. 19, 2014
Original CBS DFW Link: dfw.cbslocal.com
Hundreds of community outreach and neighborhood patrol officers delivered lunch for the Visiting Nurse Association’s Meals on Wheels clients throughout Dallas on Thursday, and KRLD’s Emily Trube got to ride along as Chief David Brown made a special delivery in West Dallas.
The 200 officers, in teams of two, drove around in squad cars to visit 900 homebound seniors who live in the neighborhoods and areas they regularly patrol.
“This is the first time we’ve done it,” said Community Affairs Interim Manager Diana Hernandez. “We are always open to any ideas that will help bridge the gap between the community and the police department.”
Building trust between officers and the people they have sworn to protect and serve is something Chief Brown says he has been focused on since he was appointed in 2010.
He has become more vocal about his community outreach and transparency policies over the past year, in the wake of an increase in police involved shootings in Dallas and local protests in reaction to grand jury decisions made in deadly use of force cases in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City to not indict the officers involved.
Chief Brown’s send off speech to the officers who volunteered for the VNA-Meals on Wheels Day of Action included a reminder of what he says is the core mission of the department.
“When you had to write a letter about why you wanted to be a Dallas cop before we hired you, you all wrote, ‘because I want to help people’,” said Chief Brown. “And we know that that’s still in your heart today.”
The Visiting Nurse Association’s new partnership with the Dallas Police Department’s is part of the agency’s push to include more companies, organizations and schools in volunteer efforts to regularly provide meals to 4,500 seniors and homebound people in Dallas County. Many of the drivers are paid.
Because a quarter of yesterday’s meals were delivered by police volunteers, the agency saved $1,500, which VNA President and CEO Katherine Krause says is enough money to feed a Meals on Wheels client for a year.
“What’s more important, thought, is the human contact,” says Krause. “That person probably does see anybody else for the rest of the day. It’s the social contact — the social nutrition that’s really important.”