WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police officers and community members gathered Sunday at McAdams Park in north Wichita to hold a cookout designed build relationships.
The idea for the cookout came during a meeting last week between Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay and leaders of Wichita’s Black Lives Matter movement.
The two organizations hosted the community event.
James Holland has lived in Wichita for more than a decade and attended the cookout.
“If I were to ask you the question when was the last time you saw this happen, you would say never because it has not happened,” said Holland.
Holland is hopeful the cookout will move the community in the right direction.
Photos: First Step Cook Out at McAdams Park in Wichita
Photos: First Step Cook Out at McAdams Park in Wichita x
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“I believe that this event is going to show our community that you can voice your opinion without being radically offensive,” said Holland.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay estimated anywhere from 100 to 150 of his officers came out for the event.
A.J. Bohannon, organizer for Tuesday’s Black Lives Matter protest, helped organize the cookout, along with Ramsay.
“First thing we want to do is break that boundary and break that barrier, the second thing we want to do is start that conversation,” said Bohannon.
Chief Ramsay led a question and answer panel, allowing those in the community to voice their concerns and have their questions answered.
“That one-on-one conversation in a positive environment is a step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Chief Ramsay.
Chief Ramsay also made a big announcement last night that all officers will now be outfitted with body cameras.
“Police in Wichita, as of last week, 100 percent of the patrol officers have body worn cameras,” said Chief Ramsay.
Chief Ramsay says all of the interactions are going to be recorded, which will help and has helped substantially when there are complaints.
Police told KSN News that numerous businesses and community members stepped up and donated supplies for the First Steps Cook Out event.
Members of the Wichita Wagonmasters cooked the food so Wichita Police officers could mingle and visit with citizens who’ll be attending the event.
“We have been told that we and some of the police will be cooking 2,000 hamburgers and 2,000 hot dogs,” said Wichita Wagonmasters member Jeff Dewey. “The number started at 1,500 and 1,000, and they bumped it up.”
“We are coming together as a police department, as a community,” said Wichita Police Officer Charley Davidson.
Chief Ramsay says he hopes to continue building the relationship between the community and police.
He says he plans to have four more community events in the next month before the school year starts.