TULSA, Okla. — A trunk-load of treats is the unique approach one Tulsa County deputy takes to build connections with children living in public housing.
“One at a time, guys,” said Deputy Daniel Gullett as he let a crowd of kids hover around his trunk, picking out what they could grab.
Gullett is one of seven Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputies on the Community Enhancement Unit. CEU is a partnership between TCSO and the Tulsa Housing Authority. THA received a grant from U.S Housing and Urban Development to have more law enforcement on all 17 properties. The assignment launched almost two years ago.
“Before, when we started, you wouldn’t see a lot of kids out playing,” Gullett said. “They wouldn’t be on the playground, parents didn’t feel safe with it.”
“Because it was not a safe environment," Rebecca Whitehead said. “They couldn’t go out there. People were making drug deals. There was needles out there with caps off of them, all kinds of stuff that shouldn’t happen where you live.”
Whitehead lives with her nieces and nephews at Sandy Park, a THA property. Her family has spent the last three years there.
“My kids ain’t gonna grow up to do the same thing I did. They’re not going to grow up to be criminals. They’re going to be on the right side of the law,” Whitehead said.
Gullett explained why the candy and toys are much more than sweet treats.
“We need their cooperation with solving crimes and making these places better," he said. "They’re not going to do that if they don’t trust us. This helps build that trust.”
To afford his special outreach, Gullett does part-time security work for a local church.
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