The Baltimore City Police Department’s Southeastern District will host its first Day of Hope, a faith-based community relations event, on Saturday, May 25, at Patterson Park on the corner of Eastern and Linwood avenues from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
The Day of Hope, says Southeastern Community Relations Officer Rosa Ramirez, is designed to help improve community-police relations and strengthen faith-based partnerships.
In response to violence in East Baltimore, Police Lieutenant Colonel Melvin T. Russell, Commanding Officer of the Community Partnership Division, first came up with the idea in 2010.
“It was a way to get churches more involved with their larger communities, not just their congregations, and to improve citizens’ relationships with local police,” Russell says.
“That Day of Hope was a day of service for the community. We had entertainment, food, a health fair, a job fair, giveaways. Every attendee was treated as a guest of honor,” Russell recalls.
Each Day of Hope is different, according to the needs of the community.
Ramirez spearheaded this event for the Southeast with the objective of improving police-community relations and helping to connect faith-based organizations to the residents and to each other.
Several East Baltimore churches are involved, including Freedom Missionary Community, Iglesia Pentecostal de Evangelization Missionera, Salem United Methodist Church, and Zion Baptist Church of Christ, to name a few, says Ramirez.
Local businesses are sponsoring the event as well, as are numerous city agencies, including the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Public Works, Safe Streets, and the Health Department.
The event will include free food and drink, entertainment for all ages, special activities for children, and a $1 raffle for gift cards and prizes from area restaurants.
Residents who attend the festival will also have an opportunity to interact with police special units, Ramirez says.
“Unless there is an emergency, Foxtrot (the police helicopter), K-9, and the bomb squad will be there,” she says.
Ramirez says the festival will be an opportunity for residents and faith communities from all over the eastside to meet representatives from the Southeast district and develop relationships with them.
She adds that the Southeast’s Day of Hope has a unique event all its own—a citizens vs. police officers softball game.
“That was my idea. I encourage everyone to come out. It will be fun. We could still use a few players for the citizens’ team, actually,” she says.
Ramirez adds that she sees strength and promise in faith-based initiatives like the Day of Hope.
“I see the police department and churches as partners in preventing violence in the city. We are peacemakers. We are both here to serve. You could say we have very similar missions. We’re all in this together,” she says.
The Southeast Day of Hope is just one of several Day of Hope events planned for the city within the next few months. Learn more about the upcoming events at www.facebook.com/dayofhope.
by Danielle Sweeney