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Jasper Police Find A Unique Way To Connect To Citizens - KOAM TV 7

Jasper Police Find A Unique Way To Connect To Citizens

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    Recent incidents between law enforcement and citizens in communities across the nation - have led to increased tension and mistrust, on both sides.
    But one local police department is looking to fix that in their community.
        Jasper Police Chief Chad Karr sets a table for a birthday party. It doesn't look like police work but he felt the department needed to reconnect with it's citizens...and his officers needed some positivity in a sometimes negative world.
Karr: "A lot of us have been officers for a number of years, and we've been in that place where day in and day out you deal with negative // and we're human and it wears on you."
    The force decided to start hosting birthday parties for kids in the community.
This one celebrated the sixth birthday of Joseph McKay.
    And for his family, it meant more than just cake and presents.
McKay: "He was terrified of police, and the police chief here in jasper went out of his way to bring him comfort so he wasn't afraid."

Joseph is no longer afraid of officers, even riding in the front seat with the chief,  but  many other children, and adults, still fear the police.
Karr: "The last couple of years police have been vilified on social media, and a lot of the young folks are on social media so they see that, and they see all the negative stuff, they see all that and we're just trying to show them that that's not how police are."
    And Joseph's mom is among those who want police to be honored for what they do.
McKay: "I think in our society, police officers and law enforcement officers are meant to be feared, and they're not to be feared, they're to be appreciated and respected."
They've hosted 30 parties this year...lighting candles, singing happy birthday and shooting silly string instead of guns. 
Karr: "Kids see us in a different light now, they know that we're friendly, we're good people, and that we're here for them basically."
Chief Karr says it's a small step toward building positive relationships with *all* the residents of Jasper.

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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