Anne Arundel Co. gears up for National Faith and Blue weekend

“There are really no better institutions, no more trusted institutions than our faith institutions in the county,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said at an event Tuesday marking National Faith and Blue Weekend. (WTOP/John Domen)

The bonds between police and their communities are stronger in some places than others.

Generally, police in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, haven’t seen the sort of divisiveness and mistrust other departments have dealt with — the sort of divide the National Faith and Blue weekend aims to bridge.

Nonetheless, in order to keep those bonds strong, the county’s police department plans to hold several events throughout this weekend.

“This isn’t something new to Anne Arundel County police or to our faith community,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said Tuesday at department headquarters in Millersville, while he was flanked by pastors and chaplains from around the county.

“We have been working together for years, and there are really no better institutions, no more trusted institutions, than our faith institutions in the county.”

The pandemic brought those two institutions together even closer, Pittman said, as they teamed up for charitable outreach to those who needed help the most.

“Faith and Blue is an initiative to bring about safer, stronger, more-unified communities by enabling partnerships with law enforcement, residents, businesses and community groups through the connections of our local faith-based organizations,” said Maj. Katie Goodwin, who leads the police department’s Bureau of Community Services.

She added, “The Anne Arundel County Police Department’s relationship with the community means everything to us.”

“As the police officers engage with the churches and the communities, as the communities see the police officers being more than just a badge or the authority, but seeing that they laugh, joke, play, interact and have feelings just like them — that erases or abolishes some of those notions of what the institution represents,” said Kenneth Moore, a senior pastor at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Glen Burnie.

“It pretty much humanizes and puts a face on people.”

Moore, who is also a volunteer police chaplain, has seen previous events and interactions do just that.

“What has happened is people are saying, ‘Oh, you’re not like them.’ But I am them.”

His church will hold a movie night on Monday, with a popular Pixar film that aims to welcome neighbors from an apartment complex across the street. Most of those residents, he said, are Hispanic.

It’s an opportunity for the department to improve relationships with the church, Moore said, and an opportunity for the church to build new bridges with those residents.

“Because there’s language barriers and things of that nature, while we’re right across the street, there’s a great divide,” he said.

“This event is allowing the church to reach out to a populace that have preconceived ideas and notions about what we are, and the department to come together where there may not be a complete understanding of the police or a mistrust there [so] that we can all come together.”

Other events scheduled through the weekend include cookouts, gatherings and even a basketball tournament.

“For me,” said Ryan Cox, the lead pastor at Severn Covenant Church, “the win is to be able to communicate as a local church the deep appreciation that myself, my family and my faith community have for the men and women of the Anne Arundel County Police Department.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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