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#StayEngaged: Thank you for celebrating National Faith & Blue Weekend with us!

The Birmingham Police Department joined community members and faith leaders in celebrating the inaugural National Faith & Blue Weekend Oct. 9-12.

Over the course of the weekend, countless positive encounters occurred as officers enjoyed open dialogue and volunteer opportunities within the community they serve.

The events began Friday, Oct. 9 with a Virtual Community Dialogue that included a live panel discussion featuring the following guests: BPD Chief Patrick D. Smith, Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, Jefferson County Bessemer County District Attorney Lynniece Washington, Judge Andra Sparks of the Birmingham Municipal Court, Brandon Johnson of the City of Birmingham’s Office of Peace and Policy, Lawrence Billups of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Prim Escalona, Firefighter Theresa Deleon of the Birmingham Fire & Rescue Service, Brandi Guthrie of Cop Stop and Pastor Eric Harris of Agape Worship Ministries.

During the panel, Chief Smith spoke two powerful words which became a mission statement for BPD: “Stay Engaged.”

The panel explored and answered questions and topics involving race relations, mental health, community involvement and other legal issues. CBS 42‘s Art Franklin served as the moderator for the event and and members of the public were able to ask questions of their own via the station’s live stream broadcast of the event.

On Sat. Oct. 10, BPD hosted a Community Food Giveaway in partnership with Church of the Highlands at the Sheraton Hotel located on Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Although it was a rainy morning, it was a successful event with countless volunteers joining BPD in organizing and distributing much needed food items to community members.

“We’re not only officers, we’re people,” School Resource Officer Francesca Clark said. “It was our pleasure to serve them today in more ways than one, so it was very inspirational for me.”

Later that afternoon, BPD joined prayer vigils at Holy Family Catholic Church in Ensley and 23rd Street Baptist Church in South Birmingham.

On Sun. Oct. 11, the School Supply Giveaway was hosted at the BPD Headquarters building located at 1710 1st Avenue North to give away 500 backpacks stuffed with supplies donated during BPD’s school supply drive that ran from August to September. Titusville A.O.H Church of God in Christ, Cricket Wireless and Serving a Purpose Security Company partnered with BPD to help make the event possible.

Children and parents were invited inside BPD to meet the officers volunteering for the event.

“Well it’s a wonderful experience because, after all, with our Birmingham Police Department and our law enforcement, just knowing that they are active, and we do support them, and this is an excellent plan that they’re doing to show the community that they are engaged and we really appreciate that,” A community member said.

Following the giveaway, a Virtual Youth Talk was held to allow community youth to engage in open dialogue with BPD. During the talk, Chief Smith requested that participants join BPD’s goal to “stay engaged.”

On Monday, the events wrapped up with a Virtual Community Concert. New Beginning Christian Ministry hosted the event.

Two members of BPD lent their voices to the event.

“I hope that tonight encourages people and lets everyone know that even though you go through difficult times, things will get better,” Det. Erin Valentine-Fitzgerald said.

Officer Kiley Johnson also sang during the event.

“You just never know what a song can do for a person or how far it can go,” Johnson said. “Me singing tonight, I just felt like maybe I could have possibly reached somebody and helped them get through a hardship that they’re going through.”