Officers Dine with Elementary Students for ‘Lunch with Law Enforcement’ Pilot

Police aren’t just around to patrol — they’re part of our communities.

The Traverse City Police Department is trying to get out to help build those relationships with a pilot program called "Lunch with Law Enforcement."

The Traverse City Police Department is working on developing relationships with the communities that officers serve.

Their newest program brings the officers and kids together over a meal.

“It’s kind of hard to believe that they would come here,” said Traverse Heights Elementary Third-Grader Shannon Milks.

Milks says she was surprised when two Traverse City police officers joined her class for indoor recess, just to hang out.

“It’s that we got to talk to him like personally, just me Chris and Triston," Milks said. "And yeah, it was really fun.”

Officers on day shifts are visiting elementary schools and joining students for their lunch breaks.

They’re visiting four schools this week, and plan to make this a normal part of the routine down the road.

“I think most people think of police as someone that you just dial 911 for or just for an emergency," said Traverse City Police Sergeant Kevin Gray. "But really, we’re here for a lot more than that.”

This is a way to make kids more comfortable, so they know where to turn if something happens.

“For kids to see officers on a personal level allows kids in maybe a more difficult situation where law enforcement is involved to feel a trust and openness towards the officers so the officer can help the child,” said Amy Six-King, Traverse Heights Elementary School principal.

A simple sit-down and conversation.

Creating a friendly relationship early on.

“This is where kids are shaped and formed, so now is the best time to make a good impression.”

Lunch with Law Enforcement is part of TCPD’s shift towards community policing.