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Unity in the community in Dunbar

Posted at 8:34 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 20:34:46-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The community came together with SWFL law enforcement, Saturday, for Lee County Sheriff Office's Unity in the Community event.

The event was held at the Stars Complex and aimed to build bridges between residents in the Dunbar area and deputies in a fun environment. People enjoyed free food, giveaways, and a kickball game with law enforcement. Officers were seen mingling with kids and their families. Parents said they appreciate the effort in a community with a history of tension between police and young people. "You have to start somewhere," said resident Keith White. "If they come down to a level where it's not something hostile, I think it will be a productive effort."

Hostility is the last thing law enforcement wants the community to think of when they see them. "We want them to see that we're regular people too," said Capt. Carmine Marceno with LCSO. "Get the community engaged in a non-law enforcement capacity so people come out and they get to play with the police and law enforcement just as if we're regular people."

Just blocks from the Stars complex, is Club Blu, where two teens were killed three weeks ago. However, no arrests have been made in the case because key witnesses are not talking to police. Fox 4 asked community members if they think the event will help open communication. "Their presence here is to build some relationships and I think that will happen. But as far as solving problems, as far as those you mentioned, there's got to be some more work," said White.

Work law enforcement tells Fox 4 they can't do alone. "It takes community to put this together and have a positive future that everyone can enjoy. That's what we're looking for," said Deputy Jeff Breot.

It seems progress was made, Saturday, as the community embraced LCSO and FMPD officers. "The come up, say hello, shake hands, hug us and thank us for being here," said Capt. Marceno.