Kerrville Police Department Chief Chris McCall knows first-hand that not all children are comfortable around police — some have been terrified.
On Friday, McCall wanted to be front and center to meet children and their parents at Chick-Fil-A for an ice cream event.
"These are great opportunities for us to be able to interact," McCall said. "I just sat with a couple of kiddos who were a little nervous, but I think by the time we parted ways they felt a whole more comfortable. I think that's important."
Chick-Fil-A provided free soft-serve ice cream and added some fun toppings — M&Ms, marshmallows, Maraschino cherries and gummy bears.
Iliana Delgadillo was pleased with her ice cream creation at Chick-Fil-A on Friday.
Iliana Delgadillo, 8, called her creation a "candyland dream," and it was. Iliana and her little sister, Nina, came to the event with their mom, Cinthia Delgadillo, but the catalyst to attend was their aunt Brenda Andrade.
"I saw it on Facebook," Andrade said of the event and added she carefully follows the Kerrville Police Department's social media presence.
There has been a wide range of academic studies about children interacting with police. One study from the United Kingdom found that children understand the authority and consequence role police officers play in daily life at a very young age. In turn, that role can be somewhat intimidating to children.
Kerrville Police Department Chief Chris McCall helps pour chocolate sauce on Friday.
It's one of the reasons McCall wants to engage the community. With him were Deputy Chief Curtis Thomason and other officers. All provided plenty of one-on-one time with children, including helping them with their ice cream.
Chick-Fil-A marketing director Kristi Foerster said the restaurant values the work of law enforcement and thought it would be an excellent way to connect with the community.
"We just really support the police officers and this is a fun event for people to meet the police department," said Foerster, who was also capturing the moment for the restaurant's Instagram feed.
Kerrville Police Department Sgt. Jonathan Lamb talks with a girl at Chick-Fil-A on Friday.
Through the years, the Kerrville Police Department regularly hosts various community events, including its popular "Coffee with a Cop.'' However, today was just a little bit sweeter — and decidedly a younger crowd.
"It's important to start that young so kids can recognize that police officers are not someone to fear," McCall said. "We are here to help."