Danville Police’s H.E.A.R.T. Walk aims to cope, heal with neighbors

The walks are scheduled each time there is a major incident in the city

Danville police are checking in on members of a neighborhood coping from a shooting on their block Tuesday afternoon.

DANVILLE, Va. – Danville police are checking in on members of a neighborhood coping from a shooting on their block Tuesday afternoon.

The police held a H.E.A.R.T. walk on Wednesday to talk with people on the 300 block of Halifax Street.

H.E.A.R.T. stands for Heal and Engage After Recent Trauma and Danville police have been doing these walks since 2019.

Jennifer Bowles, Public Relations Specialist for Danville Police Department, said the walks are not focused on the investigation itself.

“Coming out on these walks, we’re not looking for any information on the investigation. We’re just here to be a familiar face so the community knows we are available and accessible to them in more avenues than just doing you’re typical policing,” Bowles said.

It’s also important for the police to show a presence in a friendly manner.

“These walks are about relationship building so we don’t want the only time individuals to interact with the police are in a negative or scary fashion,” Bowles said.

The police are joined by other organizations in the area as well.

Mothers Strong Twogether is made up of members who have lost children to gun violence.

President of Mothers Stronger Twogether, Jean Jackson, founded the organization to have a space for people to cope with these tragedies.

“We know the feeling. We know what it takes to calm them down. We can relate to them. We know what they’re going through at that moment,” Jackson said.

Each time a child in the community is lost to gun violence ... memories resurface for some members.

“It brings back that ‘bam’ inside your heart. Each time it happens it gets better but it’s still there. It’s something that lives inside of you that has no word for it,” Jackson said.

Vice President of Mothers Stronger Twogether, Mary Barnes, was there for Wednesday’s H.E.A.R.T. Walk.

Barnes said her experience ultimately can help future mothers who lost their child or children to gun violence.

“Just because our loved one may have died ten years ago it doesn’t mean that that grief has already ended … and that we don’t walk down the street and don’t think about that person and don’t grieve for them,” Barnes said. “But we can understand a little bit what they’re going through just as traumatic. And that’s when they can lean on us.”

Even after the H.E.A.R.T. Walk, healing and coping continue.

“They are invited by our group to be a part of what we do and that’s reaching out to one another because of the experiences our members have already gone through and the things we’re dealing with. Because they probably won’t go for grief counseling but if they can be with other people who have gone through with ... now what they’re facing, they feel so much more at ease and begin the healing process,” Barnes said.

About the Author:

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.