Operation Hoodsie Cup is about way more than ice cream.
The Boston Police Department does a thing every year called "Operation Hoodsie Cup." And it's pretty darn cute.
Officers roll around the city in an ice cream truck, dishing out free treats during the dog days of summer.
It's a sly move that officers in Virginia are pulling off too.
For obvious reasons, Operation Hoodsie Cup is a hit.
Just look at the smile on this kid's face!
This year the even is especially neat because the BPD has glammed out its brand-new ride.
I would only be a little bit upset if this vehicle pulled me over.
Seriously though — the BPD does not mess around when it comes to ice cream.
The point of Operation Hoodsie Cup, however, isn't really about the ice cream (although, it sure acts as the perfect icebreaker, amiright?).
It's about building bridges between Boston's people in uniform and the community they serve.
“It’s about way more than ice cream," one BPD officer said in a statement. "It’s about relationships and keeping kids safe. We want kids to like and look up to us."
"I absolutely love the new truck and everything this program represents," Police Commissioner William B. Evans said.
"The good will it generates between my officers and our city’s young people is undeniable and nothing short of remarkable," Evans said. "My only regret is that I wish we had started doing this 30 years ago.”
Boston's not alone. In recent months, police departments across the country have upped efforts to connect with the communities they're sworn to protect.
Take the police in Wichita, Kansas, for example. After Black Lives Matter supporters protested peacefully, officers threw a cookout to start a two-way conversation in order to improve cop-community relations.
By any definition, the event was a success.
With #BLM local director AJ Bohanan at the First Steps Cookout. Coming together to improve ICT. #thatsmywichita -OM https://t.co/xmVwjKlhYr— Wichita Police (@Wichita Police) 1468803687
"This isn't something we're going to change overnight or tonight," Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsay (not to be confused with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay) told Channel 12 News. "It's just going to take continual effort on everybody's part. And work on policy changes, relationships. And that's what's going to get to the heart of the issues."
The police chief is right: They've got a long road ahead.
Let's be real — free ice cream and a cookout won't solve the dire issue of systemic racism in law enforcement or the distrust people in the community feel toward cops.
These events, however, are great first steps taken by those in a position of power — the police departments — to build trust and communication between officers and the people they serve; trust that, in far too many communities around the country, has been broken.
In America, black teens are far more likely to be killed by cops than their white counterparts (even after adjusting for the likelihood that a black or white teen would commit a crime). If you're black, there's a greater chance you'll be arrested too. And charges related to possession of marijuana demonstrate that: Even though there's no hard evidence proving black Americans smoke weed more regularly, they definitely get arrested for it more frequently.
A lot needs to happen to ensure people of color are viewed equally in the eyes of the law.
As Margaret Mead once put it, however, we should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world," because "it is the only thing that ever has.”
And, as I say, all the better if that small group of thoughtful citizens comes armed with ice cream and a bit of empathy.