‘Hug The Police’ event brings citizens, officers together in Vista

SAN DIEGO -- Hugs are changing the relationships between law enforcement and the community.

Monica Polo and her two boys were among dozens Sunday who attended the first ever “Hug The Police” event in Vista.

“We saw the #HugThePolice and they asked, 'Hey, can we stop to hug the police?' and I said, 'Yeah of course,'” said Polo, who said she doesn’t want her boys to fear the police.

Sunday's two-hour event was the 16th Hug the Police event since starting in Oceanside in July.

“This gives us a chance to meet people in the communities that we serve. They get a better understanding of who we are," said California Highway Patrol Spokesman Jim Bettencourt. "Lets face it -- a lot of people only have interactions with the California Highway Patrol if they are involved in a collision and they are getting a ticket.”

From young children to adults, the events help bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement changing negative views often seen on television.

“Kind of looking at the police officer in a different angle then just stopping people,” said Vincent Downing who came out with his dad.

“With everything going on in the world, they do get a bad rep, but it’s a dangerous job. It goes with the territory,” said Barrett Downing.

People showed they do recognize law enforcements sacrifice and appreciate their commitment to serve and protect.

“They are also like us you know. They have families and they care about us,” said Polo.

The next Hug the Police event is Wednesday in San Marcos with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.