FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fort Myers Police are working to break down the wall between law enforcement and the people of Dunbar, and build a foundation of trust. A team of two Officers has made it their mission.
"We say we are like the mother and father of Dunbar," laughed Officer Yvetta Dominique.
Back in March, Officer Dominque and Officer Bryan Fuller formed the Dunbar District. First and foremost, their job is to be police officers. But they are also working to become allies with the people who live there.
"Our goal was to come out and show them, we are here, we are not going anywhere," Dominique said. "We're here for them. If there is an issue, we need them to come to us and tell us what it is so we can help them."
Officer Dominique drives around the community, talking to parents about issues they may have with their families, mentoring teens on how to safely handle encounters with police, and showing young children that a badge is nothing to fear.
Wednesday, she visited different neighborhoods and community centers, passing out ice pops to children.
"When you connect with the kids and get them to understand who you are, and not be afraid, later on in life, they won't have that problem to come up to an officer and tell them, hey this is what's going on," Dominique said.
Jst because they're young doesn't mean they don't understand the violence plaguing their neighborhoods. "Too many people are getting killed and stuff, so to see her around, it's alright," Derrick Gadsden said. "It feels safe."
"She's helping bridge the gap between these kids and police officers," Edward Rolex said. "I believe some of the kids are afraid of police and kids get to understand that police officers are people as well. And they have kind hearts and are helping the community."
Officer Dominique knows it won't be easy, but she and her partner are determined to turn things around in Dunbar.
"You're talking about years and years of mistrust and there's years and years of people doing things that weren't so right" Dominique said. "I won't give up. We'll figure it out."