Gautier Police Extend Hands And Food To Community

"Officer! Y'all sure can grill!" one Gautier resident says as she takes a bite of her hamburger.

Officer Tommy Fortenberry is usually working the streets for Gautier Police Department. This day, he's working the grill.

"It shows the kids that they're here for more than just the law, they're also our friend," Gautier resident Cleopatra Magwood says.

That friendship is exactly what Fortenberry and the Gautier PD hope to serve up with a side message to fight the negative stereotypes that often come with wearing the badge.

"It makes the po-po out to be a bad person and stuff, and we're not. We have a job to do and we're doing our job. Our job is to protect and serve, and that's what we're doing right now you see," Officer Tommy Fortenberry says.

Fortenberry says this neighborhood is one of the most heavily drug concentrated areas in the city of Gautier. But through cookouts like these, he hopes to change that, bridging the gaps between cops and kids.

"There's disasters going on in this community right now, with the drugs and the problems we're having. Somehow or another it will build a bridge not only between people and the police department but let them know people love them. Jesus loves them," Fortenberry says.

"They trying to keep us off the streets and doing drugs. For them to cook for us, it's like them being friends to us," 9 year old Isaiah Currie says.

As more than 450 burgers disappeared, Fortenberry hopes this day shows kids that police are dedicated to Gautier.

"It's more to the job than riding around in the police car and pulling them over. It's reaching out to the community and letting them know, I'm flesh and blood just like you," Fortenberry says.

While Gautier Police don't have a second cookout planned, they would like to continue them in various neighborhoods. The Accendo Christian Boys Home and Church on the Rock also helped out with Saturday's cookout.