SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — In a nationwide effort to heal strained community relationships with police departments, the first ever “Faith and Blue” day kicked off at churches in San Francisco and across the country, on Friday.

“It’s important for public safety that thy community get to know and trust officers and that’s what we try to do when we have these community engagement events,” said SFPD Deputy Chief David Lazar.

The chance to talk and connect with SFPD officers in person is something parent Julie Chernoff took advantage of.

“There’s a lot in the media and in general whether officers are safe to be around, interact with, and I think any time they can fist bump and ask questions and interact, they can look at police officers as being role models,” said Chernoff.

The event was sponsored nationwide by the Department of Justice to promote healing. It’s an assertion Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti-Police Terror Project disagrees with. She calls the event a baseless PR stunt that fails to connect with communities of color who have long, troubled relationships with law enforcement.

“You want to talk about tone deaf – when I look to Oakland where I live, the event that is being hosted is with the National Black Police Officers Association and the Vallejo Police Department. The Vallejo Police Department is the third deadliest in Northern California. This is the department where they have badge bending ceremonies every time they kill a black or brown person in their community,” Brooks said.

Father Mike Quinn, a priest at St. Brendan’s as well as a SFPD Chaplin, says systemic change can happen and the seeds can be planted during events like these.

“They want integrity increasingly, integrity and respect, that’s one of their watchwords – so they would not approve of people who step outside the lines and take advantage of the authority given to them,” said Quinn.

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