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DC Police work to build community trust amid calls to 'defund the police'

'Let's do this together because I can't do it without you and you can't do it without me.'

WASHINGTON — There's no flashing lights or crime scene tape to be seen, but a special group of DC police officers are out canvassing city neighborhoods, working to build community trust.

"We try to do outreach so the community can see us, not just when the world is falling apart,” Sergeant Nicole Brown said.

She’s part of the Special Liaison Branch. They focus specifically on helping historically underserved groups in the District, including African, Asian, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, interfaith, LGBTQ+, and Latino communities.

Wednesday afternoon, the SLB handed out food and clothing to people in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Throughout the year, officers attend and host community events. They also connect neighbors to city resources.

Credit: WUSA
MPD officers handing out food and clothing to those in need in Mt. Pleasant.

“When we can send an officer that can relate to the culture, speak their language and understand where they're coming from, it's going to make the community member feel that much more safe,” Lt. David Hong said.  

Hong leads the SLB, which has been a branch of MPD for more than 20 years.

"Let's do this together because I can't do it without you and you can't do it without me,” officer Myra Jordan said.

However, these MPD officers said there's been a shift in the climate making their outreach work more challenging.

They're now the target of protests and people questioning their motives.

“Just like today, very hot days that we go out there trying to motivate people to feel comfortable with us, and out of the blue, everything was destroyed," officer Guillermo Canales said. "So, we're not giving up." 

This "not giving up" mantra was something that multiple officers harped on and will continue to embrace, so they can make a difference in the District. 

"I think right now is the best time to be a police officer, because we're able to be that change," officer Meghan Martin said. "People say they want to be the change. We're able to go out every single day and show them that we're there for them."

To learn more about the Metropolitan Police Department's Special Liaison Branch (SLB), click here

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