NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia just returned from a trip to Washington, DC. He met with president’s aides and law enforcement officials from across the country to share his experience in improving relations with the community.considering the tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the discussion was timely.
The decision to attend came at a needed time considering the tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Chief Vespia said, “We’re here to serve our community. That’s what we’re here for. Not only to protect them but serve them. And I think it’s important that they have to trust us to do that and we have to trust them too.”
Vespia was invited to meet with the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. President Obama formed the team last year to help law enforcement agencies across the country strengthen trust with their communities while reducing crime.
Vespia explained, “There’s so many more good things and good people out there that we need to promote and get out there to let people know that hey the world is good.”
Chief Vespia was able to share stories of the efforts his department participated in to improve relations. Earlier this summer, his officers paid a visit to a birthday party of a lonely autistic boy. And last December, officers pulled people over and gave them presents instead of tickets.
It has worked to significantly strengthen the trust between the police department and the community. The department even recently earned a national award for its efforts to fight crime alongside the community through social media.
Vespia said, “All we’re trying to do is do our job, keep everybody safe and make it a place where you can go out, walk with your kids and not have to worry about being victimized, and that’s one of the most important things, is we need to get the message out there that we’re here to help people, we’re not here to hurt people.”
The North Port Police Chief acknowledges that these recent police shootings have him worried.
He said, “You don’t know when that could happen or where that could happen and that’s one of the challenges our officers face out there. We’re no different than anybody else in the community too. We’re human beings, we have feelings, we hurt, we feel, we do all the same things everybody else does. We’re not better than anybody else, we just have a different job function.”
And despite the needless evil out there, Vespia feels it’s important to focus on the good. That will not only help combat crime, it could potentially prevent future tragedies.
“Some people need to hear positive or you lose faith in humanity,” Vespia said.