MESQUITE, Texas - A group of Mesquite police officers have a really hard assignment this summer: running a summer camp for middle and elementary school kids.
It's a type of community policing that gets cops out of uniform and takes kids places they've never been before. The free two-week camp run by Mesquite PD is paid for by the city.
School resource officers and their Sergeant Mark Bradford traded uniforms for a camp t-shirt.
“With the help of the school district and the SROs in these schools, they've identified kids that could use maybe a positive influence for the summer,” he said. “It’s pretty cool just to kind of watch them over the next two weeks— really, these first few days — just really a change in their personalities and how they treat us and how we treat them.”
Jason Macias had one view of police before camp started but now sees them differently.
“I used to think police just came around to like if you were in trouble they would come around to say you’re in trouble,” he said. “They help kids out more than I knew, actually.”
Progressive police departments across the country are doing similar summer camps and taking kids on field trips, understanding the importance of making this type of investment now and the dividends it will yield in the future.
"And maybe as they grow older, they'll reach out to us in time of need or times when they are having difficult situations and know that we're here to help them and just be there for them when other people aren’t,” Bradford said.