TPD programs pair officers with kids to build trust

- See Solomon said Freddie dedicated 21 years to the communities of the Bay Area.

"The kids understand that there are people out there that really care for them, and the parents understand that we, as law enforcement, are not the bad guys. We're here to help," Solomon said.

Some of the programs Tampa police are involved in include the Police Athletic League (PAL), which provides summer sports activities for kids.

Recently, Chief Eric Ward launched a new program called CPR - Connect, Protect and Respect.

"[It] gives the officers a chance to get out of their cars and engage the community," Chief Ward explained.

The Freddie Solomon Boys and Girls Club in north Tampa is all about building a bridge between the youngest in the community and those who protect us.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputy John Footman has been a resource deputy for five years and said the key to building trust is communication.  

"Interaction; it creates happiness and harmony among the community, among the kids, because a lot of kids from single families don't have the chance to experience a male figure," Footman explained.

Deputy Footman said respect works both ways and from respect, comes trust.

"It's helpful to the community, working with you instead of against you, because it helps keep tensions at ease, helps resolve problems, and it helps everyone feel a lot safer and better inside, knowing that you have law enforcement as a friend," said Footman. 

Meanwhile, the wife of former NFL football player Freddie Solomon is continuing her late husband's community work, improving the lives of young people in the poorest areas of Tampa.

The Tampa Police Department have been under scrutiny after an investigation showed black residents riding bicycles were being ticketed at higher rates than any other minority group. 

The Department of Justice launched an investigation, but said there was no proof of discrimination. The investigation did reveal a burden on the black community.

TPD said programs like CPR could begin to turn things around.

"We want the community to see these officers as human," said Chief Ward.

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