Sterling Heights Community Outreach and Engagement officers do pumpkin painting crafts with kids at Dodge Park.

Sterling Heights Community Outreach and Engagement officers do pumpkin painting crafts with kids at Dodge Park.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


CORE program reaches out with fall event in Sterling Heights

Police, residents unite over pumpkin painting

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 25, 2019

 Faith LaFave, 3, of Sterling Heights, helps Sterling Heights police Officer Jessica Potts decorate a pumpkin.

Faith LaFave, 3, of Sterling Heights, helps Sterling Heights police Officer Jessica Potts decorate a pumpkin.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights Police Sgt. Aaron Susalla had some ideas in mind for his latest masterpiece, to be painted on the side of a pumpkin.

“I’m more into landscapes, myself,” he said. “Maybe some kind of a fall-themed landscape.”

Susalla, who is in charge of running the Sterling Heights Police Department’s CORE program, joined police officers who painted pumpkins with kids as part of an Oct. 24 “Crafting with CORE” event at the Dodge Park Farmers Market Pavilion in Sterling Heights. CORE stands for Community Outreach and Engagement.

The CORE program offered the first 250 children who attended the event free pumpkins, while supplies lasted. The event also served free cider and doughnuts.

“This is the first time that we’ve done a fall event,” Susalla said. “We’ve done (ice cream) ‘Cones with CORE.’ This is the first fall event, and we’re hoping to make it a yearly tradition.”

Susalla said CORE is a joint effort between the Police Department and the city’s Community Relations Department. The CORE program divides the city’s neighborhoods into six districts and assigns a liaison officer to each of them in order to more personally reach the public. A seventh officer handles traffic complaints.

Susalla said the program humanizes the public’s perception of police officers.

“The program has definitely increased our public outreach throughout the department and the community,” he said. “I have had all positive experiences being in charge of the CORE program. The officers go above and beyond to plan events and community watches.”

Community Relations Director Melanie Davis said Susalla and police Lt. Mario Bastianelli approached the Community Relations Department with the pumpkin craft idea. Davis thanked parks officials for providing the Dodge Park pavilion as a venue.

“I think one of the most challenging things about putting this together is all the logistics involved,” she said. “You have to make sure you have the creative supplies. You have to make sure you have the refreshments. You have to make sure you have the music. Also, we have to make sure … the main goal of the event is to give our community a chance to engage with our CORE officers.”

Find out more about the Sterling Heights Police Department by visiting www.facebook.com/sterlingheightspolice or by calling (586) 446-2800.

 

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