Bulldog tailgate party connects police with community
The Burnet Police Department is hosting a tailgate party at First Baptist Church of Burnet in celebration of Faith & Blue weekend, a national campaign to promote stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“One of our goals is to become a more community-based police agency, where we have strong connections with those in the community,” Burnet Police Chief Brian Lee said. “We’ve been able to forge quite a few relationships, but (the tailgate) seems like a great opportunity to forge more.”
Starting at 5 p.m., officers will grill hot dogs for residents and host kid-friendly games. The tailgate will end at 6:30 p.m., an hour before the Burnet Bulldogs (3-2) kick off their first district football game against the Lampasas Badgers (3-2) at Bulldog Stadium, 1000 The Green Mile.
Lee believes collaborating with the Burnet Ministerial Alliance on the event will help his department foster even stronger relationships with residents. The alliance represents about 10 churches in the area.
“It was kind of a home run to work with the faith-based community and help build community partnerships,” Lee said. “It allows (residents) to see (officers) on a different level.”
The chief hopes the tailgate will recalibrate views on what law enforcement officers do.
“The truth is, we can’t get our job done without the community,” he said. “They are our eyes and ears, the witnesses, the victims, the suspects, it’s everybody out there that we’re policing. When the community gives us information, it helps us do our job.”
Offering an example of the power of community tips, Lee pointed to an incident involving Burnet High School over the past weekend. A student was arrested on a charge of making a terroristic threat toward the school via social media.
“The community brought that to us, giving us an opportunity to go out and investigate that and make sure we had a safe campus for students on Monday morning,” Lee said. “Without the community, we would have never had a chance to go out and do that. Building trust with the community is paramount.”
In a joint investigation, the police department and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office determined the suspect did not pose a danger to other students, according to a Facebook post on Oct. 2.
Lee encourages all residents to stop by the Faith & Blue tailgate on Friday.
“I think it’s going to be a great event,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of officers to meet and talk with. It’s a two-fold thing. We get to meet more community members and we get to support the high school football team. I think it’s going to bring people of all different walks of life together in one common goal to build those relationships.”