Police Use Chocolate Bars to Make Connections
Brooklyn Park Police are using candy bars to make connections in the community this summer. They were a gift from the local Walmart store.
“When they called us and said we have 6,500 candy bars, we said we can definitely give them away,” said Community Engagement Officer, Matt Rabe. “We really don’t know how yet. But yeah, absolutely. So we went and picked them up.”
That led to an idea about how to go behind the badge and make connections outside enforcing the law. Each candy bar was re-wrapped with a Brooklyn Park Police logo and a brief description of someone on the force. For example, you might unwrap a photo and description of Juan Sanchez. He works in the detention facility. But you’ll also learn he has a wife, two children, and is a big Twins baseball fan.
“We’re seeing a fundamental philosophical shift in policing,” said Officer Rabe. “What the candy bars do is when you open a candy bar, you learn a little bit about the department. You learn a little about one of our staff members. You really learn about them personally. It humanizes them,” he said.
There’s also a chance for a special prize. Five select candy bars are wrapped with a golden ticket that’s good for prizes that range from training with the SWAT team to having a birthday party at the police station.
“All of our units have these candy bars, as well as our patrol officers,” said Rabe. “When they’re out there during their shift and they come across anybody, not just kids, adults, anybody they can hand out these candy bars and have one of these opportunities to connect.”
Candy bars are a kid magnet. Friendly kids swarmed one officer when he took a handful of candy to greet them on a playground.
“We don’t want to just be the bad guy all the time,” said Rabe. “We want to create those opportunities where we get the space to be the good guy.”
Police are now looking for a way to keep the chocolate cool in the squad cars during the hot summer.