Improving police-community relations has been an important initiative in the District, neighboring Prince George’s County and several other police departments throughout the United States in the wake of a number of killings by police of unarmed Black men and women. In an effort to bring the community and officers closer together, D.C. and Prince George’s County police departments recently held a community walk.
Close to 100 people gathered along Southern Avenue around 11 a.m. on Oct. 15 for the annual “Beyond Borders Walk” hosted by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Seventh District and Prince George’s County Police Department’s District Four. The collaborative event with neighboring law enforcement agencies brought members of the community together for a day of peace, food, music, and activities.
“The Metropolitan Police Department and Prince George’s County Police Department has always had a strong working partnership,” Commander Vendette Parker of the Metropolitan Police Department told the AFRO Oct. 14. “Since our jurisdictions border, members of our departments have collaborated on community outreach events, investigations, and more.”
Parker said the event is essential because it allows law enforcement officials to get to know residents on a personal level. She explained that walks like Beyond Borders help build trust between the community and the police.
The walk featured performances by Southeast D.C.’s Malcom X Elementary School marching band along with participation from other youth groups like, the Ward 8 Junior Cadets from Hendley Elementary School and high school students from the department’s Youth Advisory Council program.
After the march, which drew the attention of neighbors who honked their horns at parade goers and waved and smiled from their windows, according to Parker, the festivities continued at Oxen Run Park on Mississippi Avenue, SE. “They know we are not the enemy,” she said, referencing that it is important for youth to see the police when “things go right” not just when “things go wrong.”
The officers paid homage to the department’s former softball league and retired officials from the Anacostia Sherriff’s Department during the celebration with a softball game. Some of the teammates were members of the D.C. Police Union. “If we can get one kid to leave here with a positive image, we have done our job,” Hiram Rosario, chief shop steward at the DC Police Union, told the AFRO Oct. 15.
Overall crime in the District is down five percent and homicides are currently seeing an 11 percent decrease as of Oct. 17, according to data from the D.C. police. Even with the decrease in crime, police reported another homicide Oct. 15, a few hours before the walk.
Saul Flores-Canales from Northeast D.C. was fatally shot on the 600 block of Kennedy Street, NW. He was one of two killed in the violent incident.
According to police reports, authorities responded to a report of shots and found Flores-Canales, 36, and another man suffering from gunshot wounds. Flores-Canales was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other victim, Ever Cruz, 31, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries on Oct. 16. Authorities are investigating and searching for suspects.