Special to the Citizen
PARKVILLE, Mo. — For a second consecutive year, law enforcement representatives from more than 30 agencies in the Northland came together in support of one another and the community at the City of Parkville’s Northland Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Saturday, May 19 at English Landing Park.
The day featured a parade with a multi-agency honor guard, displays of police equipment and patrol cars, special operations and tactical vehicles, demonstrations, educational information on a variety of topics including seatbelt safety, drunk driving and internet safety, child identification kits, a fallen police officer memorial, face painting, food and more.
The free event — scheduled on the last day of National Police Week — was developed last year as a way to give thanks to the community for continually supporting law enforcement and as an opportunity to highlight the diversity of police resources available in the Northland, said Parkville Capt. Jon Jordan, one of the event’s planners.
Jordan said organizers weren’t sure what agency response would be when first told about the event but Northland agencies quickly jumped on board.
“As soon as we started calling everybody, it just kept growing and growing,” Jordan said.
Besides city police and sheriffs’ offices from Clay and Platte counties, also invited to the event were several other emergency responders from the area including the FBI, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, BNSF Railroad police, Bureau of Prisons, the Missouri Conservation Department, the Mid-America Regional Council, the Northland Regional Ambulance District, the Platte County Health Department, the Missouri Department of Corrections and many others.
Working together isn’t unusual for Northland police agencies, said Parkville Chief Kevin Chrisman. On the first Friday of every month both local and federal agencies have representatives who meet for breakfast to discuss their partnerships and what’s happening within their respective agencies.
“We have great relationships in the Northland and in this region,” Chrisman said. “If we need help, there are all kinds of resources. We come together to solve the problem.”
The appreciation day was well received by the community as well. The event drew an estimated 1,200 visitors its inaugural year.
The most important partner police can have is the community, Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen said. The event is a way to give back to a community he feels has been supportive of law enforcement.
“We’ve been so blessed,” Owen said. “There’s been crisis with police departments all over the country and while others are being ridiculed, we have citizens rallying behind us.”
Owen said the sheriff’s office makes community outreach a priority and is visible in the community in multiple ways — on the roads, in schools and at events like this one.
“You’ve got to have that relationship,” he said. “If we don’t have that relationship, then we are defeating ourselves.”
That relationship comes into play when people least expect it, said Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston.
“We teach our children at a very early age how to call 911,” Johnston said. “We don’t really think about it too much — it’s just something that everyone learns — until that one fateful day when it’s you and your life changes forever.”
Emergency responders answer those calls that often put them in dangerous situations, and their courage should be recognized, Johnston said.
At the appreciation day was Kristin Price of Kansas City, Mo. Price brought her 6-year-old son, Caleb, to the event because of his love for cars. She said the day was a unique opportunity to interact with law enforcement in a positive way and offer them her support.
“I think seeing police officers as real people who are sympathetic to your needs is important,” Price said.
That sentiment was exactly what Smithville Police Officer Norma Lorenzo said she hoped would be the result of the day.
“We can actually talk and get to know each other,” Lorenzo said, “that way when you call for assistance, you know who is coming. Some people the only time they see us is when they have an emergency or there is a catastrophe or something bad. We want them to see us on a positive side — on the human side.”