APD reaches out to East Austin community through boxing, exercise

The Austin Police Department is using boxing and exercise to build relationships in an East Austin community. On Monday afternoon, they held an event at Givens Park, an area they often get called out to.

“It lets you know they are friendly police officers,” said Nancy Gilliam. 

Gilliam, her family, and dozens of other spent the day jumping rope, lifting tires, and boxing with the Austin police officers who patrol the Givens Park area. 

“They are out here to enjoy and make sure the kids are safe,” said Gilliam.

The event is part of APD’s community outreach program called Operation Blue Wave, but instead of just meeting with people, this time they've teamed up with a local boxing coach. 

“People, if they've seen you in a non-confrontational experience or a non-police call experience that if you do have to come out on a patrol call the interaction goes so much better,” said Sergeant Elijah Myrick with APD.

The event does more than just build a relationship with the community, it's also to address safety concerns. 

“There have been people coming here for 40 years telling me and they are concerned about safety (at the park),” said Myrick. 

In April, Andre Davis Sr, a well-known East Austin man, was shot and killed at the park. 

“I think that gives people a negative stigma about the park,” said Myrick.

Myrick said he hopes these events will also show they do have a presence in the area. 

“I think it's made people not only in the park but in the community and new neighborhoods that have been popping up feel safer that we are out here,” said Myrick.

Gilliam says she hardly ever comes out to the park but might change her mind. 

“It should bring more people out, it brought me, so anybody else should come too especially kids,” said Gilliam. 

For now, she's glad police are putting this much effort into the area not just for her sake but for the kids.