HPD invites guests for ‘Cookies on the Lawn’

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – Chick-fil-A and the Helena Police Department partnered together to host an event called “Cookies on the Lawn,” Wednesday, May 19 as a way for both organizations to connect to the local community.

Guests were invited to join HPD at the restaurant’s front lawn from 3:30-5 p.m., where guests had an opportunity to meet with officers in a family friendly environment.

HPD Officer Jeff Murphy said that Chick-fil-A Operator Brad Nichols had reached out to the department and wanted to create and event for the whole community.

“They got in touch with us and explained that they wanted to start getting involved in the community,” Murphy said. “They wanted to show their support for Helena, and said they saw where we had done some community engagement events recently. We came together and created this event. Everyone loves them, so it is a good way for us to work together.”

To encourage people to come out, the restaurant offered one free cookie to every guest that attended. HPD set up a tent with goodies like HPD swag, things for kids, cups, stickers and other items.

This is just one of the many community engagement events that HPD has put on since the start of the year, hoping to increase trust and cooperation between the community and the department. They also are aiming to familiarize children with police and the way they operate as a way to allow them to feel more comfortable around officers.

“This allows citizens to see us up close and personal as individuals,” Murphy said. “We want them to know that we are regular people just like them. We just happen to be doing this particular job. We especially want to reach kids. That is a lot easier when we are together in person, and they get to see the cars and have a positive interaction with our officers. It is a feel-good event all round. Plus, it gives parents an opportunity to relax and let their kids have fun in a controlled environment.”

Children looked on in wonder as they met with the officers, and got to learn more about what their job entails. They got an up-close look at the police cars, which the children really seemed to enjoy.

The department has been hosting other similar events such as setting up in one of the city’s parks and handing out things like popsicles, or cookies to kids. Murphy said that they hope that these programs will continue to create a bond between the people and the department, which is essential for a safe community.