Local organization plans to host free community cookout to bring - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local organization plans to host free community cookout to brings kids and officers together

(Source: WMBF News) (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Grand Strand Community Law Enforcement Appreciation Committee Inc., (CLEAC) has scheduled its second major annual event, which this year will be the "Connecting Cops, Kids and the Community Cookout."

The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, located at 150 Citizens Circle in Little River.

The cookout will bring together children and law enforcement professionals from more than a dozen jurisdictions all over Horry and Georgetown counties for fun, games, and free food and drinks. The public is invited to attend. 

Myrtle Beach Police Department Cpl. Nicole Shelton, a member of the committee who also works in the department's family services unit, said she see first-hand that children are not very inviting when police arrive.

"It's very heart-wrenching to see that they don't like to see us, they don't like to talk to us," she said. 

It is exactly why she feels the cookout will help children in the community see officers in a different way.

"It seems like the only time they see us is in a negative light," Shelton said. "So let's turn that around, let's make it where you are seeing us in a positive light."

Bennie Swans, a Carolina Forest resident and one of the event's two co-chairs, said the event is designed to bring the community and law enforcement together to reinforce fairness and improve public morality, honesty, good temperament and mutual respect between children and police from across the region.

Horry County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Tom Fox, another committee member, said many children have never met a police officer. He believed their first encounter with law enforcement at a young age will be the lasting impression into adulthood. 

"I think, particularly this time in history, officers need to reconnect with communities and children to bring a legitimacy back to policing," Fox said. 

CLEAC hopes the event will allow kids to see an officer without a uniform as a human, and that itself will be the foundation to building a strong rapport that will influence positive policing. 

"We want the children to see us positively, and if the parents can see their kids interacting with the police in a positive light that might change their outlook, and their looking at us saying, 'Well, you know what, they are not that bad," Shelton said. 

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