St. Louis County Police aid effort to help at risk kids with United Community Action Network

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - There was a flurry of St. Louis County Police activity, Tuesday, without crime or controversy.

In the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, St. Louis County Police have been looking to serve as much they protect, to go "beyond the badge".

It used to be you knew the police officer patrolling your street.  People, especially kids, recognized police badges and weapons as tools for doing good.

To the extent that’s been lost, St. Louis County Police hope to find it again.  UCAN, the United Community Action Network is a big first step.

Police were among the volunteers stuffing care packages for the young clients of Great Circle youth and behavioral health services which helps at risk kids, needing shelter or foster care.

“If you’re 17, 16, 15 years old, and you don’t have conditioner or facial wash or deodorant or something like that, it’s a big deal in your life,” said St. Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar.  “That’s something my children never thought about.  Many children don’t.  How do we do just that little part to make that child’s life better?”

UCAN formed out of the unrest in Ferguson.

It’s a collaboration of police, community service, and religious organizations.  School districts from Rockwood to Jennings are part of it, too.

The organizations purchased enough items, from soap with built-in rubber duckies to shampoo and deodorant, to stuff more than 100 bags

Bev Pfeifer-Harms/Great Circle:  “When (children) come (to us), they come with basically the clothes on their backs and maybe a garbage bag, so not a lot of opportunity to have their own things,” said Bev Pfeifer-Harms of Great Circle.  “It really means something for them to have something they can call their own, something they’re not worried someone else is going to take from them.”

“That’s why we need to be engaged in these kind of groups,” Belmar said.  “That’s why these police officers need to realize hey, there is time to stop the car and show kids the inside of a police car, shake their hands, just talk to them about what’s happening with sporting events or different things like that.  It doesn’t always have to be ‘just the facts ma’am’.”

UCAN meets every month and takes on all topics, even the tough ones like police shootings and drug abuse.

No one's pretending this fixes everything; but it matters.

St. Louis County Police will be among those delivering the care packages in the next couple of weeks.

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