PHOTOS: 2nd Annual Casper Police Department Block Party
It was, for all intents and purposes, the first big event of the summer.
North David Street was blocked off for a few hours Wednesday night, for the Casper Police Department's 2nd Annual Community Block Party.
This year, like last, featured a wide-array of activities. There were games, giveaways, basketball tournaments, and more. Officers showed up their cars and motorcycles to kiddos, other officers manned the grill and served up burgers to hungry guests, and more.
It was a sight to behold - dozens and dozens of smiling, happy faces. Children playing with each other, and with the officers. An officer held up one of the younger kiddos so they could dunk a basketball. Music courtesy of DJ Nyke blared in the background. People were dancing, they were laughing, they were having fun.
And that's exactly what the Casper Police Department hoped for.
The men and women on the force are proud to serve their community; whether that's by arresting criminals or simply serving up a BBQ cheeseburger.
"Typically, when you see a police officer, it's not on the best day of your life," Casper Police Department Public Information Officer Rebekah Ladd told K2 Radio News at last year's event. "You're getting pulled over or, perhaps, there's some other tragedy going on, and there's really not an opportunity for us to build those relationships in the way that we want. And we feel really passionate here, at the Casper Police Department, that those relationships, and being intentional, and getting to know our community is really what keeps our community safe, for years and years and years."
This year's block party happened after an extremely hard year for the police department. Last fall, the CPD lost one of their own- Lt. Danny Dundas. It was a blow to the entire force. They didn't just lose a fellow officer; they lost a friend, a mentor, a brother.
Last year, Danny was on the frontlines with his friends, serving up burgers and playing basketball. This year? Well, this year was a little bit different. Lieutenant Dundas may not have been on the basketball court. He may not have been behind the grill.
But he was still there. His spirit was alive and well in Downtown Casper on Wednesday. Everything Lieutenant Dundas stood for and believed in was on display- community, peace, kindness, joy. It was all there. He was there.
The community needs its police officers. But here's a secret that they might not tell you - officers need the community too. They need to know that they're doing a good job, that they're appreciated, that they're needed. Events like this, with the turnout that it got for the second year in a row, prove how essential the community and its officers are to each other.
"It means a lot to me as a member of the Police Department, as a citizen of Casper" she said. "And I know it means so much to our officers who, again, really only get to interact with the community on calls every day. To see all of these people show up and say 'Hey, we support you. We're with you. We're proud and excited that you're doing this job,' it means a lot to them. And I think that stays with the officers every day when they're out there doing their job."
Video from last year's event, and photos from this year can be seen below.