The Kids Safe Zone was the safest place in the city Friday as police officers and young people joined forces to celebrate Easter. But the day was more about building lasting relationships than finding Easter eggs.
"It was my backdoor way of changing the relationship between our kids and the cops and the community," said Penn North CEO, Ericka Alston-Buck.
An Easter egg hunt had to be canceled earlier his week because of a shooting. Leaders at the Safe Zone say, they're setting a different tone for the neighborhood.
"It's real community policing. So our kids typically see the officers as bad guys because when they see them they're kicking in the door or locking up a family member," Alston-Buck said.
"They're important. They're our future. It gives a chance for the officers to interact with the children. The children to see the officers as what they are: fathers, brothers, mothers sisters," said Baltimore Police Captain John Webb.
And for a neighborhood used to expecting the worst when they see police, positive interaction was a welcome sight.
"They do not have to see us in a crime fighting capacity, which a lot of these kids do only see the officers in crime fighting capacities; they get to see them out here on a fun day interacting and having conversations with the officers," Webb said.
Alston-Buck said community events open new doors for young people who may even aspire to be law enforcement officers one day, while at the same time helping to decrease crime in neighborhoods typically plagued by it.