Sheriff's Office serves up meals to community

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Deputy Matt Joyner, left, and Jeremy Hardy prepare a hot dog for Zymirecal Jenkins,11, Saturday at Ebenezer Baptist Church.


Staff Writer

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Nash County Sheriff’s Office understands the importance of community engagement.

Despite a hot and humid Saturday, officers and staff from the agency set up a long table, a grill and gave away hundreds of hot dogs, chips, cold water and Gatorade to people in the community in the parking lot of Ebenezer Baptist Church at 702 West Raleigh Blvd. 

The Rev. Thomas L. Walker, the longtime pastor of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, was elated to allow the Nash County Sheriff’s Office to use the church as a way to reach out to the community.

“This is what I called proactive and not reaction,” Walker said. “I’m appreciative of (Nash County) Sheriff Keith Stone, his staff and supported group coming out and doing this. These young people need to have a positive view of law enforcement and law enforcement should have a real open view of our young people in our communities.”

The event was the latest of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office Hot Dogs for Kids event. Capt. David Brake said this was the fourth event the Sheriff’s Office has held since it started last year, In June, they partnered with the Red Oak Fire Department to hand out free hot dogs at the department’s station. 

Even though the event was catered to children, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office also gave away the meal to adults coming by with their children or people stopping by. A couple of officers made sure to get the attention of oncoming traffic by going up and down Raleigh Boulevard letting residents know about the free hot dogs.

“While the title of the program is ‘Hot Dogs for Kids’, but as you can see anybody can come by,” Brake said. “What we really want to do as a Sheriff’s Office is to be out here in the community and have a positive relationship. We target kids because often they only see us enforcing the law. They don’t see the other side of us wanting to give back to them and the community.”

With the ongoing contentious relationship in the country between law enforcement and citizens — especially in the black community, Drake acknowledged it is important that children growing up today don’t grow up with the mentality that police officers or authorities are bad people.

“Children see those negative images on the TV all the time, but hopefully this is a day that they can reflect on and help see us in a different light,” Drake said. 

Authorities hope community events like this will continue to help foster a better relationship between law enforcement and communities, especially situations involving authorities need for public help in solving crimes in the the community. Drake said retired Nash County Sheriff’s Jeff Lucas was the brainchild behind the agency’s need a few years ago to be more interactive with the local public. 

While Stone is tough on enforcing the law and being tough on crime, Drake said the head man at the agency also is big on pushing for community involvement.

“If you can get the community talking with the police and us talking with them, it’s a lot of things that can grow out of this particular event,” Drake said. “With information regarding crime, this can help as far as having a relationship and rapport with people and talking to people. You get out here and you do have a crime, people feel more comfortable and willing to talk to you, when they know you’ve been out here in the community. We’re hoping more of these types of events or anything else we do community-oriented will show law enforcement in a different light.”

The next Hot Dogs For Kids event will take place in the next few weeks in Spring Hope and will be followed by a few more events during the summer.