EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Pastors and police officers are working together to combat crime in the Illinois Metro East, building bridges between law enforcement and local residents with special Faith & Blue events.

The Christian Activity Center’s community garden and orchard are reaching the end of the season. But on Thursday, they were planting seeds for a new initiative in the community in the coming days.

“Police vehicles, fire trucks, and a helicopter is going to land just to attract the children,” said Lt. Elbert Jennings, Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigations. “We’ll be passing out candy. Just really trying to build a collaborative effort with our faith-based organizations because we recognize we need these organizations to help us make our communities safe and solve crime and make our communities safer.”

The groups are hoping to build bridges to more inclusive communities.

The first Faith and Blue event will be held Sunday, Oct. 8 at Power of Change Christian Church.

“We get a chance to see these troopers with a human face behind the badge, and that’s going to really change how we engage in the community,” said Bishop Henry Phillips, Power of Change Christian Church in Cahokia Heights. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. The village is not just education and not just the church. The village is everybody that touches the village.”

The following day, the Christian Activity Center will host an event with food, games, bounce houses, a K9 demonstration, and more.

“Our kids need to know that law enforcement is not their enemies,” said Dr. Jeff Williams, executive director of the Christian Activity Center. “They’re here to serve and protect them.”

The events are free and welcome to all.