New Camp Has Cops Interacting With Kids in Coral Springs

Coral Springs Police are working and playing hard to forge great relationships with kids from the city's underprivileged neighborhoods.

They're doing it with a police summer camp called "Cops Connect With Kids," where the children get to know officers in a nurturing environment at Hunt Elementary School.

For many it's their first encounter with police in their lives.

"We decided it was important for us to set up a program so they could see their local police officers for who they are," Officer Lynne Martzall said.

Many of the kids may have seen on the news the recent negative interactions between police, and particularly black men, that have had deadly results. This program enforces a positive dynamic.

"I think of the police officers as my parents," camper Brandon Valdez said. "Because they are like my family, they mean a lot to me."

The program is the brainchild of Florida Impact and Meals on Wheels South Florida, who wanted to feed the hungry. But the Coral Springs Police Department took the idea to the next level.

"This is a great community tool to connect with the kids in the community, they see us on a personal level, we interact with sports," Officer Brian Gasper said. "It shows them that we are easy to talk to – you know that we are out here protecting them but we want to have fun with them and teach them."

Six officers daily and two staff members not only feed the kids, they also connect with them on a personal level through team sports, reading and math lessons, exercise and emotional support.

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