LUBBOCK, Texas — Hundreds of people gathered at Clapp Park Thursday night for a meet and greet with local first responders as a part of the Lubbock Police Department’s first “Burgers and Badges” event.
The event featured everything from live music, a bounce house for kids, tours inside the Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter and free food.
First responders from Lubbock Police officers, DPS, EMS, Lubbock Fire Rescue and more were all in attendance — and were all on a mission to introduce the community to the men and women “behind the badge.”
“Once I take off the badge, I’m just like you, anybody else. I go grocery shopping, I go to church,” Sgt. Steven Bergen with LPD said at the event.
Events like Burgers and Badges are critical to building community relationships and trust, especially after a year filled with the coronavirus and unrest, according to both Sgt. Bergen and LPD Chief Floyd Mitchell.
“This has been the longest year ever, and we couldn’t do [events like this due to COVID-19]. This is community policing, this is community engagement. This is how we connect with our community, so that when something bad happens, we can go in and talk to them, and they know that we’re here to help them,” Mitchell said.
People who attended the event said they wanted to thank the people who serve and protect their community.
“I’m grateful … I wanted to come to this to see what [law enforcement] might have to say — we got to stay together and fight together,” Faye Lyons, who has multiple family members in law enforcement and the armed forces, said.
Dana Richardson came to the event in support and in the memory of her daughter’s fiancé — a police officer killed in the line of duty.
“Kids can come out and see that [police officers] are good guys, and they’re here to protect them,” Richardson said.
Fifteen-year-old Myriah Ramirez came by to check out the festivities but chose to stay to learn about what it’s like to be in law enforcement.
“Not all cops are bad, not all cops are mean,” Ramirez said.
Officers ultimately said they were blown away by how much their community came together.
“Community engagement at its finest,” Bergen said.
“It’s a strong testament to not only the support of the community but the spirit of resiliency that the citizens of Lubbock have,” Director of Emergency Medical Services for University Medical Center Thomas Moore said.