At a time of transition for many communities and law enforcement agencies, the Bloomington Police Department took time Thursday afternoon to literally chill with west side residents, sharing stickers, laughs, hugs, and soft serve.
Bloomington Police Officer Nik Jones was one of more than a half-dozen BPD representatives "throwing out the high fives and hugs" at Carl's Ice Cream on the city's west side Aug. 27. Jones has worked for the past decade in the culturally diverse, generally low-to-middle income neighborhood, and he saw Thursday's Ice Cream With A Cop gathering as a key part of the department's ramped-up effort under Chief Brendan Heffner to establish a strong rapport with residents. The event was a follow up to the recent multiple-department Coffee With a Cop chat at Normal's Dunkin' Donuts; BPD Chief Brendan Heffner was on hand as kids explored Jones' Unit 51 van and updated officers on the new school year.
Carl's, a longstanding summer hangout, donated free cones for children 12 and under -- a move Jones deemed "awesome."
"We're just hanging out with kids and their families, and people in the community," the officer related. "We're getting to spend some quality time with people -- high-fiving, hugging, answering some questions."
Unit 51 was the topic of most of the kids' questions, along with "what we wear on our belts," and the BPD K-9 officers, who were conspicuously absent, Jones said. "All the guys are out now just really active, talking to the community," Off. Jones reported.