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Police, firefighters host Fourth of July event in hopes of uniting Old East Dallas community

The two departments said they are hoping to build relationships with the community during a time when they aren’t simply looking to enforce laws.

The Dallas Police and Fire Departments hosted a community event Thursday for neighbors in Old East Dallas. The two departments said they are hoping to build relationships with the community during a time when they aren’t simply looking to enforce laws. 

It’s been a challenging year in the neighborhood.

One year ago on the Fourth of July, firefighters in East Dallas were hit when someone threw an artillery shell at their firetruck. And just this past weekend, two teens were murdered.

“The unfortunate thing was that it was kind of gang retaliation. The two people who were actually killed in this unfortunate incident weren’t even part of a gang,” Anthony Andujar with the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Police Association said. “I have a 17-year-old daughter. I have a 20-year-old son. I hate to see that kind of violence on such young lives.”

The hope is that this Fourth of July event offered an alternative.

“I think that they are important, so that we can build a good relationship with the community, to let them know that we are not just out enforcing laws, that we can also come out and have fun with them,” Monica Contreras with the Dallas Fire Department said. 

“A lot of the community who has been here for years, they want an alternative, and as a police department we owe it to them to give them something to do, something positive,” Tom Castro with DPD said. 

Marva Epperson-Brown was one of the many community members who attended. She was grateful for the cops and firefighters who spent time with the kids.

“They’re just showing them love. And that’s what they need to see. They need to know that the police and the fire department are not their enemies,” Epperson-Brown said.

Though they have had a few challenges, Epperson-Brown is not giving up on Old East Dallas.

“We just love this community. We love working in it. And we’re here to stay. Nothing’s going to run us away,” Epperson-Brown said. 

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