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One year later: How police are building bridges in Sherman Park after protests

In the wake of the 2016 unrest in Sherman Park, after a fatal officer involved shooting, the Milwaukee Police Department stepped up efforts to get to know community.community.community.community.

This summer, officers are at the park every day. They  hang out with kids and their parents, playing games and building trust between police and the community.They  hang out with kids and their parents, playing games and building trust between police and the community.the park every day. They  hang out with kids and their parents, playing games and building trust between police and the community.They  hang out with kids and their parents, playing games and building trust between police and the community.the community.

Saturday the park was full of families hanging out, barbecuing and listening to music.

“This is what Sherman Park is to me,” said Officer Shawn Awe, one of the Sherman Park officers.

It’s a far cry from the scene at Sherman Park nearly one year ago, when protestors took to the streets and burned businesses after Sylville Smith was shot and killed by an officer.ago, when protestors took to the streets and burned businesses after Sylville Smith was shot and killed by an officer.

“There’s a lot of good people in this community, in the Sherman Park area.
 Awe said. “And talking to them, seeing what they had to go through, it was very sad.”

But since the protests, it’s been about rebuilding. That’s why Awe and his partner, Jeremy Kenner, spend every day at Sherman Park.

“People will come up to you and say how happy they are that you’re here and that they feel they can bring their kids back to the park,” Kenner said.

But the officers do get some tough questions, about what happened last year and what exactly is the police department’s role is in the community.

“ Some of them like us, some of them don’t but at least it opens the door for us to have that relationship,” Kenner said.

They say it’s especially tough with teenagers.pecially tough with teenagers.

“Some of them will be apprehensive until you start playing basketball,” Kenner said. “After the game the attitude changes because they see we’re willing to play. We’re willing to have fun.”

And though a lot changed in a year, the officers say there’s a long ways to, before what was fractured is whole again.a long ways to, before what was fractured is whole again.there’s a long ways to, before what was fractured is whole again.

“It just is going to take time and dialogue and just keep working with the community.”

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