Children don't always get to know police officers on a personal level.
So for the Goldsboro Police Department's third community policing class of the year, the participating officers focused on events that allowed them to interact with and get to know children.
Officers David Breckel, Dylan Corbett, Brian Elder and Melvin Smith participated in a community fun day at the W.A. Foster Center, talking to children and showing off police equipment.
They presented their project Tuesday morning at Wayne Community College to a group of community stakeholders.
Children were fed burgers, and car seats and booster seats were raffled off to a few lucky parents. They also got up close and personal with patrol cars and the police department's recently acquired Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, better known as an MRAP.
The officers said the community was hesitant and uncertain about why the police department needed such a vehicle.
They explained that it would be used for high water rescues, and people relaxed a bit after that.
Officers also said they often see parents without children in car seats during traffic stops. Parents may not have the appropriate seats for a wide variety of reasons, including the high cost, so they raffled off four car seats and five booster seats.
The second group of officers -- Yonny Campos, Michael Parks, Dakota Toms, Kenny Prevost and Jason Booker -- participated in a youth league flag football game where officers went head-to-head against children ages 5 to 9.
This afforded children an opportunity to play a game with officers and get to know them outside of their work and their uniform and engage in a good-natured back and forth game of flag football.
"I think the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is we are seen in the uniform, with the badge and the authority," Booker said. "We are not seen as the people that this pulled us out as."
The officers said this makes street-level interactions much easier when they have to speak to the children in the future.
The class also completed a group project where they built ramps for people who needed them to aid in getting inside their homes.
The community policing class started earlier this year as a way for officers to learn about the concept in a hands-on way.
Groups past have done yard work, Meals on Wheels, staged a "Shoot, Don't Shoot" scenario, built a bench and flagpole for a fallen soldier's graveside and more.
It is all part of a way to teach officers about community policing -- even though it is no new concept -- in their own communities and department.
The class was the brainchild of the late Maj. Jay Memmelaar, who died earlier this year at age 49, and Chief Mike West. Capt. LeAnn Rabun has been the instructor for all three classes that have taken place this year.