Local News

Apex Police Department makes unique effort to strengthen bond with community

Posted July 9, 2016 10:58 p.m. EDT

— The Apex Police Department is making an effort to strengthen its relationship with the community.

For Cpl. Brian Opitz and the rest of the department, getting to know the neighbors they serve is part of the job, even if it’s through a friendly game of soccer.

“I partnered with our parks and recreation department,” Opitz said. “They donated a lot of equipment out me and we just came out and started playing pickup games.”

Manuel Campa, who lives in a neighborhood where officers play pickup games, said he appreciates getting to know the officers.

“He’s [Opitz] a real good guy,” Campa said.

Spanish speaking communities may have a fear of police, but Campa says the gesture of goodwill by Opitz and the department makes the community more comfortable.

“He’s the only one who came to play with us, playing with the kids,” Campa said. “He says, ‘Anything you need, just call me.’

Lt. Greg Rhodes says technology is destroying the art of communication, but building positive relationships requires social contact.

“You have to get out there and talk to people, because if you talk to people and respect people, you’re going to get it I return,” Rhodes said.

Opitz said the kids and their families didn’t know what to think when he first brought out the soccer equipment. However, they have warmed up to him, and the process makes Apex officers more approachable in the good times and when there’s a problem in the community.

“That’s the goal, to recognize us and to know us on a more personal level,” he said.