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'The way to a person's heart is through their stomach' | Arlington PD happy over successful 'Cooking with Cops' event

Arlington police officers had to buy more food because so many families attended their free cookout at Vandergriff Park Thursday.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Hundreds of people showed for "Cooking with Cops" put on by the Arlington Police Department (APD) Thursday.  

The department invited residents to Vandergriff Park for the free cookout. The event drew so many people that officers had to make another grocery store run to buy more food.

Officers grilled hamburgers and hotdogs to give away, along with snacks and other refreshments. They also had support from the Destiny Pointe Christian Center, Mona's Heart Outreach and Tarrant Area Food Bank, which donated supplies and food. 

Arlington East District Deputy Chief Kyrus Branch led the charge organizing the event, which is the brainchild of APD Chief Alexander Jones. 

When Jones became the city's chief, he led the way for rank-and-file officers, being examples for the department doing more community-based policing by attending public events. 

As Branch prepared for the park event, he had concerns if people would show. But within minutes of the event, which started a 6 p.m., the attendance went from just a handful of people to hundreds. Once people started lining up for the free food, officers realized they needed more food.  

"You know the old saying, 'the way to a person's heart is through their stomach,' right?" Branch said. "So, what better way than to provide a free meal to the community, and it gives the community an opportunity to get to know who the Arlington Police Department is." 

Branch is following in the footsteps of his father who also served in law enforcement. He hopes events like Cooking with Cops opens more doors not only with the public trusting officers more, but also the public being more willing to serve as their eyes and ears.  

During the event, APD also put up a recruiting tent for people who are interested in learning more about a career in law enforcement. Ironically, the Cooking with Cops event took place on the third anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis resident whose police custody death was broadcast live on Facebook and resulted in the conviction of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.  

"Service before self," Branch said. "When law enforcement can't talk, we have to depend on our community actions to speak for itself. We know the world was watching that incident. It was a horrific incident. You can't judge every law enforcement incident based on that one experience."

People attending the event also got the opportunity to meet officers from several different units like SWAT, the mounted patrol and recruiting. The Arlington Fire Department also had one of its fire trucks on display at the park. 

Branch credits Jones and two of their lieutenants for the success of the event in the park. He enjoyed seeing entire families attend Cooking with Cops.

Credit: WFAA reporter Scoop Jefferson

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