Seattle police greeted by grateful public at community picnic

SEATTLE, Wash. — In the wake of a shooting that left five Dallas officers dead earlier this week, local residents welcomed city police officers with open arms Saturday at a North Precinct community picnic.

It is an image of Seattle's men and women in blue that is often lost on the public they have sworn to protect and serve.

The precinct's acting captain said the officers are gratified by the kindness of so many strangers.

"It makes you feel good," Lt. David Sweeney said. "It makes you like you're part of the community. And that's what I want from our Police Department is to really feel like we're part of the community. Not like we're separate from the community."

That feeling was echoed by Sarah Fitzpatrick and her 11-year-old son, Langley, who attended the picnic.

"He was at a birthday party," Fitzpatrick said. "And we thought let's reach out to these guys because I'm sure they're feeling sad like I am."

"I feel bad for the cops," Langley said. "Because like they have so much on their plate now, like more things keep happening. And as long as this society keeps evolving, they just have more to deal with."

Chris Cabana, another picnic attendee, arrived after getting off work Saturday.

"I just want everyone to understand that we need to take a step back and reset and know that we are here for the right reasons," Cabana said.  "... They're here to protect us."

The dangers of their job is reflected in the black stripe across their badges, worn in honor of the fallen. It is felt acutely by their families, like Lt. Sweeney's wife, Maggie.

"It is heartbreaking, this past week, that's all I can say," she said. "I've been on an emotional roller coaster for my husband, really."

Maggie said she is afraid for her husband for the first time in his nearly 30 years on the force.

The East Precinct will hold its annual picnic next Saturday at the Powell Barnett Park on Martin Luther King Junior Way.

Seattle police also said some residents left them flowers.

KIRO 7 reporter Deborah Horne did a Facebook live during the picnic. You can view it on her Facebook page, or watch below.

SPD North Precinct picnic

Posted by Deborah Horne on Saturday, July 9, 2016