PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police officers are tasked with keeping the city safe, but some officers go beyond their shift at work to connect to their community. Channel 11 met up with a police officer who spends a few hours of his summer as sous chef for a camp full of children in Sheraden.
Officer Damian Thomas started working with Hope For Tomorrow a year ago as a math tutor. The nonprofit organization gives students extra help with math and language skills along with extracurricular activities. Founder Keysha Gomez was thankful for Thomas' help during the school year and wanted to see if he would continue to help in the summer camp classes.
That's when Officer Thomas revealed his cooking skills. Now, he teaches a weekly cooking class.
"This is the best part of my day," Officer Thomas said. "Because usually, a police officer, I'm seeing people at the worst point of their life or the worst point of their day. These kids, I get to see them at the best point of their day."
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Gomez says when Officer Thomas and Officer Tiffany first started volunteering, the children were scared of police officers in full uniforms. Now, they are teaching the officers to dance and are excited to see them show up each week.
"Them coming consistently every week has really broken down barriers," Gomez said.
The students and counselors at the program say they realize how critical it is to see positive interactions with police officers.
"It's good to have good relationships and it's nice to have the police officers really get to know the children that they are working with in the neighborhood," Amajah Hall told Channel 11.
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