Across the country, tensions remain high between police departments and average citizens.

It's a shame, because police officers are people just like you and me, and many really are looking to protect and serve. However, you don't hear about their positive contributions as often as you do the tragic and senseless things that happen when some officers fail in their duties, especially if it's learned that they weren't held accountable in the past.

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On the flip side, community members, particularly people of color, have legitimate concerns that law enforcement agencies should be receptive to. I think it's safe to say the vast majority of us respect police officers and the danger they put themselves in to serve their communities, but also feel that the respect and understanding should go both ways.

It's a complicated situation, and we won't see any progress unless everyone comes to the table for honest, human conversation.

That's the goal of an event happening this Saturday in Killeen that was organized by a Harker Heights High School student.

Antonio Fox is a senior at Harker Heights Hight. According to Killeen ISD spokesperson Taina Maya, Fox wants to become a law enforcement officer after college, and he's dedicated a scholarship project to creating this opportunity to bridge the gap between officers and the communities they serve this weekend.

It Takes Both Sides to Build a Bridge is scheduled for 10 AM to Noon Saturday, May 15 at Killeen's Lions Club Park, 1700 East Stan Schlueter Loop.

"Closing out National Police Week May 8-15, the event, held at Lions Club Park in Killeen, will boast ice breakers, group discussions, field day activities, and provide opportunities for engagement between local police officers and members of the community," Maya said Thursday. "Officers from Killeen ISD, Killeen and Harker Heights police departments and the Bell County constables will attend the event and participate in activities."

“The purpose of this event is to help repair the perceived relationship between our community and law enforcement officers and provide a safe and fun space to help breed that positive interaction,” Fox explained.

Fox, a 2021 Murphy Lee Service Scholarship recipient, hopes the event will be the first of an annual tradition of bringing police and citizens together for a day of fun and communication.

Things won't change for the better unless we talk to each other and respect flows both ways. Hopefully this event is a step toward making that happen.

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