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Knights of Columbus host community event connecting public with police

POSTED 7:32 PM, JULY 31, 2016, BY MEGAN DILLARD

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police officers spent a couple hours Sunday afternoon interacting with people who said they just want to get to know their officers. Knights of Columbus organizers hoped the meet-and-greet would bridge the gap between law enforcement and citizens.

Bill Aguirre served as a Kansas City police officer for many years. Even before recent violence between citizens and law enforcement, he thought it’d be a good idea to connect the two.

“Being a retired police officer, it hits home. With things like this, maybe hopefully, we can get a dialogue going,” he said.

Knights of Columbus Archbishop O’Hara Council 4387 hosted different units from the Kansas City Police Department Sunday. Officer Josette Young said meeting with citizens is important.

“This is their community and we work their community and without them, we don’t know how to better serve them,” Young said.

Kathy Vervaecke walked around the event with her daughter.

“They’re just doing a job. When I was her age, we were taught always to respect police officers and to give them straight and respectful answers,” she said.

It’s a lesson Vervaecke hopes Holly learns through spending some face time with the officers.

“Usually whenever you think of police officer, you think tickets and jail. But they’re nice and like average people,” Holly Vervaecke said.

Aguirre says times have changed since he wore the badge, but he’s hoping meet-and-greets like these will start to pave the path toward peace.

“Maybe we’ll have less confrontations and hopefully less loss of life,” he said.

One man was motivated to help with Sunday’s event by recent violence in Kansas City, Kansas. Steve Pierce runs Skardski Funeral Home; they took care of the arrangements for Captain Dave Melton, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this money. Pierce learned about Sunday’s event and was so moved by Melton’s death; he cooked for and fed all of the people at the police meet-and-greet.

“I ran into Bill one evening, and it was right after the service. I like to cook and I like to give back to the community so it was a perfect fit,” Pierce said.

Several dozen families and police officers were Sunday.

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