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By Racine Police Chief Art Howell

On Sunday August 24th, the Greater Racine Community will come together for a day of food, fun and fellowship, all in support of the local Community Oriented Policing initiative in Racine. This special event (entitled PeaceFest), is the vision of Beth David, founder of We Are Racine (WAR) a local community advocacy group.

As the PeaceFest title suggests, the purpose of this special event is to promote peace on the streets of our community through promoting community support for local peace-keepers. While local police officers have a number of tools at their disposal to carry out their daily duties and responsibilities, the most powerful resource available to police professionals is the “Power of Partnerships.”

Following the introduction of the community policing philosophy in 1993 (by retired Chief Polzin), a number of community partnerships were developed. Local business organizations, church groups, elected officials and community members at-large joined forces with law enforcement officials to improve the quality of life for area residents through working together to reduce crime and disorder. During the past 20 years, great progress has been achieved under the COP philosophy. While much has been accomplished, additional work remains ahead.

During the 2014 Peacefest event, we will pause to celebrate the success of our community partnerships, while raising funds in support of the work yet to be done. 

PeaceFest was conceived in response to a surge in criminal activity in the spring of 2014. Although the City of Racine recorded record low crime rates in 2013, and further reductions have been achieved in 2014, an alarming spike in armed robberies earlier this year along with the tragic homicide of Joseph Walker during the robbery of the American Legion tavern prompted Beth David and others to consider this special event to promote peace in our community.

The positive relationships that exist between local police officers and the citizens we serve is remarkable. We are grateful for the support extended to the members of the local law enforcement community, and we are humbled by the overwhelming community support for the PeaceFest initiative.

Please join me and other officers in celebrating our shared vision and commitment to promoting peace in our community!