New Danville police officers focus on building relationships, fighting food insecurity

The nine officers built four ‘Peace Pantries’ throughout the city to help those in need

DANVILLE, Va. – Nine new police officers are already making a difference in Danville by focusing on community policing.

“Without the community, the police can’t do their job,” said Officer Erica Lewis.

Lewis was one of nine rookie officers to graduate Friday from the Community Leadership and Immersion Program, otherwise known as C.L.I.P.

The month-long session helps Danville’s new officers engage with nearly 50 local leaders.

“It was easier for people to connect with me and feel comfortable to talk to me,” said Lewis.

The program is a partnership between Danville Police and Averett University.

“We want to immerse ourselves in the community prior to our officers even stepping foot in the field, so that they can have a better understanding of the background of the Danville community,” said Jennifer Bowles, public relations specialist for the Danville Police Department.

As part of the training, officers completed a group project to help the community. They built four ‘Peace Pantries’ around Danville, where you can donate non-perishable food items to those in need.

“It’s a learning lesson, but it’s also an experience and gives back and helps everybody,” said Lewis.

Officers identified local organizations, including the Salvation Army and House of Hope Homeless Shelter, that help to combat food insecurity, but they’re not open 24/7 and some require applications.

The new pantries are outdoors, never locked, and you do not need permission to access them.

“You need a meal late at night, or you need to just get the kids through a weekend to get them back to school for a meal? Go to the pantry. That’s why it’s there,” said Officer Clint Carty.

Officers said that more than 6,600 people in Danville are considered ‘food insecure’ each day. That means they’re either struggling to find food or going without a meal. One-in-three children living in Danville are also considered ‘food insecure.’

The graduates see the new pantries as one way of building a relationship with people.

“We’re just people, too, and we want the best for their community as much as they do. How can we work together?” said Carty.

About the Author

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.

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