IMLAY CITY (WJRT) (08/17/19) - During the Imlay City Police Department's second annual Public Safety Expo, community members could interact one-on-one with police, fire, EMS, military, and other emergency officials.
There's never been a better time to do just that.
"People only seem to hear all the bad things, so we wanted an opportunity where we could interact with people and let them know we're human beings. You hear these rare stories of bad things with public safety; that's not the norm. We're out here because we love what we do," Scott Pike said. Pike is Imlay City's Police Chief.
In its debut last year, the event saw about 60 different displays and nearly 400 people showed up. The Police Department believes the event will build each year.
They hope it can quickly morph into a recruiting event to address an issue nationwide.
"Law Enforcement in general, firefighter, EMS, we're all having difficulty finding people to take the jobs. When I'm looking for a new recruit, I'm competing with every other law enforcement agency in the nation, so this is a chance for young people to talk to us and find out what the benefits are to this job," Pike said.
That may have even worked for upcoming high-school sophomore, Darren Filer, who may have some additional career aspirations after today's event.
"I want to be an actor, singer, entrepreneur, and also maybe even a firefighter. I actually tried on some of the gear, and I actually kind of felt like I was in their shoes. I felt like I actually knew what they went through," Filer said.
Community members agree. Those interactions may last a few minutes, but it's impact could stretch much further.
"You want your children to be familiar with and comfortable with police officers, the firefighters, and the EMS. If they ever have to be part of an emergency situation, they need to know that they can trust us," Pastor Tim Erickson from First Trinity Baptist Church said.
This was just the second Public Safety Expo, but the Imlay City Police Department hopes to see it grow into a major recruiting event in the future.