Block party brings police, Kensington community together

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There's a lot of focus these days on the relationship between police and the neighborhoods they serve.

On Wednesday, the Police Athletic League and the officers who work daily in the 25th police district, a high crime section of Philadelphia, threw the four-hour block party for local families, especially the children, in hopes of building a better relationship.

"Crime-wise, we have big heroin markets and it's really a lot of stress in the neighborhood. We just really wanted to bring some fun for the kids for the day, where they could come out safely and not have to worry about needles left in their front yard," Philadelphia Police Captain Mike Cram said.

There was nothing but praise coming from community activists about the event.

"Captain Cram and the rest of the community was able to isolate the street today, bring young people out to show them that people care and show them there was more to life than just ducking and hiding from people who were doing bad things for their neighborhood," Bill Summers of the town watch service said.

And from the children who participated in large numbers, there was joy and approval. There was also an understanding of what this was about and the potential it has to create good will.

Many of the children only encounter police during times of strife and trouble in this Kensington neighborhood.

"With all the drama that was going on with cops and stuff, I don't think cops are that bad, like the people say they are," young Omar Jenkins of Kensington said.

"It's the summer, we want them to have fun out here. I see we are all having a good time; I don't see any negative vibes," Kevin Robles of Kensington said.

PAL is 70 years old and their mission has remained the same, reaching out to children from mean streets, trying to have a positive impact on their lives, and trying to build better relationships between the cops and the community.

"They see the police officers are a person they can go to for a safe haven," Philadelphia Police Lt. Evelyn Cintron said.

There were no dissenters or protesters, only the hope that the promise comes true to make this an annual event.
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