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‘Unity in the Community’ event brings together Salisbury Police, NAACP

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police and the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP were trying to build bridges on Sunday.

The agencies worked together to put on a free community event they hope will be one of many. Called “Unity in the Community,” the get-together was originally scheduled for Saturday, but it was pushed back one day due to wet weather. Skies were overcast Sunday afternoon, but the rain stayed away at Brenner Crossing Apartments.

The police department brought out its Neighborhood Ice Cream Express truck to give out free ice cream. Hot dogs were also available.

Lawn games for kids dotted a community space at the complex. There was also a fire engine and dunk tank, which gave players with good aim got a chance to dunk a cop.

Alberta McLaughlin, the Salisbury Police Department’s victim advocate, said the department wants to build relationships in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide demonstrations last year because of the murder of George Floyd.

McLaughlin said the goal is for the community and the police department to see each other as partners rather than enemies.

“It’s very important that we build a relationship with the community so when a crime does transpire we already have that relationship,” McLaughlin said. “Nobody wants crime in their community.”

Sgt. Daniel Lancaster commended the city for pooling resources to make Sunday’s event happen. Lancaster emphasized the relationship-building part of the event.

He said the department wants to offer a friendly face for people when they are going through something difficult.

“A lot of times at the police department, we only meet people on the worst days of their lives,” Lancaster said. “That’s the only time we see them. People call us when they’re having the worst day of their lives. It’s important for us to build that relationship in happy times, good times when people are smiling and having fun.”

NAACP President Gemale Black said agencies such as the police and fire departments are part of the community, need each other and are not going anywhere. Black said he believes the police department is interested in bridging gaps that exist in the community.

“We want people to know if you see something, say something” Black said, noting there were three homicides in Salisbury in the previous week week and the community should work together to close those cases.

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