LAURINBURG — Area church leaders are applauding the focus of Laurinburg police on the service part of the motto “to protect and to serve.”
City officers were out in force this past Saturday as part of a community cookout at the Stewartsville Community Center in the Washington Park area. Nearly 200 people attended the event that included food, games, music and fellowship with law enforcement officers.
This is the second such event held in the city. Tara Village was the site of the first cookout, which drew more than 200 people for a day of free grilled hot dogs, festive music, basketball and balloon animals.
Agencies such as the Robeson Health Care Corporation, the Scotland County Health Department, Scotland Memorial Hospital, the Scotland County chapter of the American Red Cross were also on hand to talk about services and programs.
The cookouts are a joint venture between Laurinburg police and area churches.
“It’s all about unity between the church and the youth,” said Pastor Sammie Douglas of Higher Dimensions Ministries in Laurel Hill. “It is nice.”
The churches participating on Saturday were East Laurinburg Pentecostal Holiness Church, Beyond the Veil Assembly of God, Higher Dimensions Ministries and the Word of Life Assembly of God churches. Church groups such as Restoring Hope Ministries, Word of Life Assembly of God Ministries and Northview Harvest Ministries also participated at the earlier cookout.
“It was just a great event,” said the Rev. Michael Edds, pastor of East Laurinburg Pentecostal Holiness Church. “The community and the churches had a great time coming together.”
Edds, who serves as chaplain for the Laurinburg Police Department, said many of the police officers that took part in Saturday’s cookout did so on their day off.
“Laurinburg really is blessed to have a group of police officers willing to take time out like that to try to make a difference,” he said. “I hope the city understands what a treasure we have in those dedicated officers.”
Edds added that the cookout also gave the young people a chance to see the police officers in a positive light.
“They’re here not only to protect us, but to be a part of our community,” he said.
Laurinburg Police Department Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams agreed.
“We have to start with our youth, so as they grow older they understand our purpose as far as law enforcement and that we’re there to be their friends and be allies with them,” Williams said.
Williams said additional cookouts will be held depending on the weather.