Police Use Toys to Try and Connect to Community
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Rochester Police have been driving around the city for the last year with a trunk full of toys, handing them out to kids in an effort to connect to them and their parents.
They've handed out more than 3,000 toys so far, some at emergency scenes they've responded to, others just at a stop taken as an opportunity to talk to children.
Angel Vazquez, a Rochester Police officer for 18 years, said he's seen a lot change over the years. He believes if people feel they have a connection to the police officers they meet, they're more likely to help them during police investigations.
So far this year, there have been 20 homicides in Rochester. Police said only five cases have been closed.
"The kids in the inner city here, the only time they have to interact with police is when we're putting yellow tape up or there's a crime down the street, or even when we're coming into the house to take one of the parents or siblings away. There becomes a fear of the police and as they grow up, the fear becomes hate," said Vazquez.
The toys used for the "Toys On Patrol" are collected through the Pirate Toy Fund.