By Noel McLaren

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson says there’s no better way for his officers to cool relations with the community than with some free ice-cream, some neighborhood hoops and a little block party.

“It’s important for police to understand that we derive our power and our authority from the people we police, so we have to be among them. They have to be supportive of what we’re doing,” he says.

Still in its infancy, the Camden County PD says it’s making public outreach a top priority. Over the summer, the department handed out coloring books to children and introduced them to K-9 officers, hoping to foster a healthy relationship that’s lacking in other communities, like Ferguson, MO.

“So that our interactions with people aren’t just when the situations are bad,” explains Thomson.

To become relatable, Chief Thomson says he’s diversified his staff. Sixty-three-percent of his superior officers are minorities, 50% of rank and file officers are also minorities, and altogether, the department speaks 11 different languages.

But for the people who live and work in Camden, like the hundreds of union workers who came out in support of Michael Brown rallies Thursday, local police outreach is just a start.

“It takes time, this Camden County Police force has been in Camden for about a year and a half now,” says union member George Jackson. “Everything takes time.”

The union members who came out Thursday are hopeful the police will continue to reach out and understand the people they are sworn to protect.

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