GARDEN CITY, GA (WTOC) - For dozens of kids living in one Garden City neighborhood, the ending to their normal school day wasn’t the same Friday afternoon.
They stepped off of their school bus to Garden City police officers bearing snacks, happy to see them.
It was all a part of the police department’s “cops at a bus stop” initiative.
“It allows us to create that opportunity and those relationships where we’re not in enforcement mode," said Police Chief Gilbert Ballard. "Let the kids get something to drink, some chips, and open things up so they understand that everything isn’t an emergency and that we’re people too and we care.”
Chief Ballard says it helps build trust within communities.
“I think for so many years the issue is we’ve got police cars, we’re mobile, it’s a mobile society," Ballard said. "Most people don’t come to the police department unless there may be an issue or a concern, and so this gives us an opportunity to be out and about.”
Ballard said not only did the initiative put a smile on nearly every child’s face, but many of the parents were also grateful.
“I like it because sometimes when they ride down the street, they will stop their car when they see the kids on the porch or playing outside and they’ll go in the trunk and get them a teddy bear or a sticker or a tattoo. It’s always something they’re doing for us,” Christina Mack said.
It gives them a new outlook on how they view officers in their area.
“We appreciate them coming out here and doing this for the kids because there’s not many people that come out here and do this for the kids and sit in this parking lot and wait for them to come off the bus, and they don’t even think about it," Mack said.
“Garden City is doing their job right now. They have much respect from me right now,” Mack said.
“These children are our future, and so we’re just trying to open those lines of communication," Chief Ballard said.
Ballard says they will continue to host events that help create community relationships as along as there is an opportunity and a need.
He says the department is also trying to extend to many different neighborhoods across Garden City .