Hundreds of people enjoyed free food from McCray’s Backyard BBQ and got better acquainted with the officers who patrol the streets in Riviera Beach.

It was all part of National Night Out, an event geared toward building trust and improving relationships between police and the community.

Crime Scene workers share their trade with children.
Crime Scene workers share their trade with children.

“The cops are here to keep us safe. We can’t do our job without the support of the community and we’re here building that support, building that trust,” said Chief Clarence Williams.

The city of Riviera Beach reached out to young people, Junior Peacekeepers, to help deliver that message.

Tia Daniel is one of them, and she uses social media to find recruits and share the message that it’s important to build trust.

“You can help get the word out that cops aren’t all that bad, they’re not as bad as people think they are,” Tia said.

Roneshia Drakes, another Junior Peacekeeper, shares the same attitude and says it’s critical for police and people to be united.

Junior Peacekeepers in Riviera Beach.
Junior Peacekeepers in Riviera Beach.

“So that there will be less misunderstandings, less killing and stuff. Especially with this generation guns are a big part of our life.”

The event took place at the Wells Recreation Center where the department had dozens of vehicles on display, from motorcycles, to patrol cars, to SUVs outfitted with video game consoles in the back, to the gigantic military-grade heavily armored vehicle, known as “The Beast.” (Sidenote-Det. Prieto, the singing cop, is part of that team)

Chief Thompson runs the Riviera Beach SRT team.

“This is all about bridging the gap between our community and law enforcement,” he said. “To see that we are real people, we’re not robots. We have families too. Give us the opportunity to ask some questions, answer concerns.”

Community activist Derrick McCray of McCray’s Backyard BBQ provided free food.