Des Moines Program Building Strength Between Police and Community

DES MOINES -- As rioters interrupted what began as a peaceful protest in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday evening, the relationship between police and the community looks severed.

"We are praying about the matter, we are very sad about it and hoping there would be some kind of resolution between the police and community," said Carolyn King of Des Moines.

In Des Moines, there seems to be a strong lifeline connecting the two. King, who is also a Community Ambassador, said it starts at the top.

"We have a great Chief in Chief Dana Wingert,” said King. “He's real transparent and will talk to you about anything you need to know."

It's all thanks to a Community Ambassador Program that began in 2011 by a group of local church leaders but now boasts over 200 from the community.

It has bridged the divide that many cities are having trouble with.

"It keeps our policemen in tune with the community and able to talk to any of our groups," said Linda Carter-Lewis, a Community Ambassador and former local NAACP President.

Without riot gear or tear gas, Chief Dana Wingert of the Des Moines Police Department and many others spent time at Evelyn K. Davis Park, praising their community at an annual Community Ambassador Appreciation Picnic.

"It's taken our outreach and engagement to another level," said Chief Wingert.

King agreed and hopes others, including Charlotte, will follow.

"We are extremely proud and we hope it will be a model program for other cities,” said King.

Many in attendance believe it's this interaction of dialogue, and sharing a community meal that will not only save lives but save an entire neighborhood.

"We love our police and we love people," said King. "All lives matter. We are all humans and there's one race and that's the human race.”

If you are interested in joining the Community Ambassadors Program, contact the police department and ask for the Neighborhood Based Service Delivery Program.