People, praise and prayer!
Those three words best describe the Johnston Police Department’s highly impressive 2022 Faith and Blue event, which was held in the front parking lot of the nationally accredited Senior Center on Hartford Avenue.
For inside of two or so hours, the scene was little children scooting all over the lot as well as jumping up-and-down joyously in a bounce house and also being hugged and embraced by “Mickey Mouse the Cop” of Kathy Parente’s Party Characters-fame, while their parents enjoyed pizza, calzones, stromboli, finger sandwiches, blue and white cupcakes that were part of Johnston’s extra special National Faith and Blue Weekend.
The entire Faith and Blue celebration was organized by Johnston Police Capt. Mike Babbitt, Sgt. Luca Lancellotti and Patrolman Chuck Psilopoulos. Johnston Police Chief Joseph Razza praised his officers and said, “my hat goes off to these men; they did a tremendous job that was greatly appreciated by everyone that was here.”
Razza also offered “special thanks” to Lori Anderson and Toni Mullane of the JPD staff for volunteering their time to hand out gift bags to all the children.
The chief then issued “a special thank you” to Rev. Father Peter J. Gower of Our Lady of Grace Church, Rev. Father Angelo N. Carusi of St. Rocco’s Church, Rev. Father Richard Narciso of St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Rev. Dr. Chris Abhulime of King’s Tabernacle Church and Rev. Thomas A. Fava of Trinity Assembly of God Church, who delivered awe-inspiring words of faith, beautiful prayers and praise for the police.
Razza, while speaking from his heart with obvious emotion during the faith-filled part of the event, said: “This year’s Faith and Blue took on special meaning because we wanted to build from last year’s event and make it more family oriented. I was very honored and deeply humbled by the turnaround; it was especially pleasing to see all the children and families interacting with one another and having fun.”
He then offered a “HUGE THANK YOU” to Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena for his inspirational words and taking time out of his busy schedule to show support for this year’s Faith and Blue.
“Good afternoon and welcome to everyone from the faith community,” Polisena began. “I am proud, honored and humbled by your presence here today for this national Faith and Blue event. The key word is faith! No matter what one’s faith is, we need more faith and prayer in our lives.”
As the Mayor went on, he stated: “In a society where the progressive left is trying to attenuate/abolish our beliefs and trying to get the word ‘God’ out of our vocabulary, this is truly and important time and gathering. Your community respects you … they trust you … and they confide in you … which makes it so important for you to be here today and let them know that the police are there for them. The police will protect them and their family and will put their life on the line for them … complete strangers, too.”
With emotion ringing in his voice, Polisena said: “99 percent of police officers are compassionate, caring and put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us. Yes, there is a small percent of bad officers that tend to disrespect citizens especially in the minority communities they are sworn to serve and protect. There is no place for those officers with racist tendencies.”
Thus, as the mayor continued his moving keynote address, adding: “So, because of your leadership and your close relationships with the members of your faith followers, your word matters. Your word — to coin a phrase — is Gospel!”
The mayor, as he has said time and again while speaking about law enforcement, sternly stated: “As the progressive left tried to spread the phrase ‘Defund the Police’ that truly backfired on them as well as those politicians who led the charge to defund the police. Those elected officials have crawled back under the rock they came from.”
Polisena then reiterated: “After those elected officials realized that defunding the police protects criminals — not law-abiding citizens — who want safe neighborhoods and safe schools.”
Before he closed his remarks, all of which were followed by applause, Polisena issued a heartfelt “Thank You” for being here this afternoon supporting this important gathering. Please remember, our police officers serve and protect all of our citizens.”
Perhaps Father Gower, who also serves as the JPD Chaplin, said it best as he concluded his remarks and moving prayer: “We are a people of God!”
‘Building bridges to more inclusive communities’
By PETE FONTAINE
Last Friday’s Faith and Blue put the Town of Johnston and the Chief Joseph P. Razza-led Police Department on the national map and was yet another example of the JPD reinforcing the country-wide slogan: “Building bridges to more inclusive communities.”
While the JPD holds seasonal events that bring many members of the town together for fun and sometimes food-filled social meetings, last Friday’s Faith in Blue was perhaps the most impressive of all those events in recent years.
Likewise, Faith and Blue — which was inaugurated in 2020 by Movement Forward, Inc., working with the Office of Community of Oriented Police at the U.S. Department of Justice — the idea was a simple one: “the ties that bind officers and residents must be reinforced if we are to build neighborhoods where everyone feels safe and inclusive.”
According to the event’s sponsors: “Faith based organizations are key to building these bonds because they are not only the largest community resource in the country, with over 65 million people, but because we are a diverse nation.”
Moreover, as Razza and people from Mayor Joseph Polisena and leaders of five Johnston-based churches noted: “The mission of Faith and Blue Weekend facilitates safer and stronger communities by engaging law enforcement officers and local residents through the connection of faith-based organizations.”
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