PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) — It’s Faith & Blue Weekend, a time for communities to come together with local law enforcement agencies. In a faith-based environment, the focus remains on investing in and building stronger relationships with one another.

The Russell County Sheriff’s Office and Phenix City Police Department gathered with the community at the Mount Olive Baptist Church Recreation Center for Faith & Blue Weekend.

Events like this help us bridge that gap and get to know people in the community and build trust with them and the children, as well that make us approachable.

George Staudinger, Phenix City Police Chief

Faith & Blue started three years ago in Georgia and has now made its way around the country, becoming a part of the nation’s largest annual collaborative policing initiative. Phenix City Police Chief, George Staudinger, says first responders can be there for the good times too.

Oftentimes we’re in uniform and we’re out there working and we’re not very approachable. But at an event like this, we can mingle and talk with everybody and be more approachable. They can see the human side that we’re not robots, we’re not machines. We’re just like you.

George Staudinger, Phenix City Police Chief

The community was able to meet K-9s, Xito and Charo and get an up close look at officers equipment.

You sometimes want to be just like them [police officers] and to go and see what they go through in a day, like a stakeout, and see they weapons they have is pretty cool.

Braylen Alexander, Phenix City resident

The mission behind Faith & Blue is simple: reinforce healthy relationships between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve – proving they are more than just a badge and uniform.

Police officers are our friends. I’ve always believed that growing up as a child, and I believe that they are people of the faith and we have to have confidence in them as well as they do us.”

Dr. Patrick Tyrone Brown, Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church

Chief Staudinger says he plans to continue participating in community outreach events in an effort to make the neighborhood a better place.