BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Police have a community policing department. And Wednesday, 4 police cars were parked at a department store. Shoppers entering the store where surprised.
"To see 4 police cars in the Cortana Mall parking lot, I say, OK something done popped off. Somebody done did somethin'," said shopper Falesha Augustus. "And I seen them standing up bagging groceries? My heart was like Oh My God! Police are here bagging groceries!"
And there they were, fitting large boxes into small plastic WalMart bags, chatting up the people standing in line, and entertaining children still out of school from the holiday.
Sgt. Riley Harbor III is a tall lanky man. He explains that yes, you can have big events to promote good cheer, but the feeling of community has to be more personal than that.
"We asked to come out today to try to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community," he said. "We're trying to find out how they feel about law enforcement and what better things that we could do to help better serve our community."
Riley shows 9News a Citizen's Survey with only 10 questions, but able to convey areas that someone feels police should improve.
Any officer who introduces himself as Cpl. Matthews says to a customer, "And this is our direct number to our department," then points to the number. "When you want all three law agencies, you dial 911."
There were smiles all around as officers loaded bags and placed them in the customer's cart for a ride to their cars. Each customer also left with a list of the kinds of activity you should report, what will happen when you do, numbers for each police precinct and man non-emergency numbers, too.
9News found most shoppers happy with the police interaction. They talked about the need for better police relations, and how this was a good way to do so.
"I thought it was a way to reach out to the community better relations," shopper Kathleen McLin said. "It helped with me. I hope it helps with others."