On Sunday, March 12, I joined Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler and former Longmont Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Benavidez on a walk through Countryside Village in south Longmont. Neighborhood walks have become an almost-weekly practice for Mike and Dan, encouraging residents to engage fully in their community. Mike styles the effort the “Belonging Revolution”, and these are indeed good days to reassure folks that they do belong here and are essential to our community’s fabric.
Countryside Village’s residents are predominantly Latino, and like any of us, they didn’t expect to find the police chief meandering through their neighborhood in jeans engaging them in friendly conversation. The families we spoke with included high school students, an oilfield worker, a Navy submariner, a proud and concerned mom and retirees - all residents of Longmont from 12 to 40 years who consider this “home”.
People responded warmly to the pledge that Longmont’s police, fire and government are dedicated to serving everyone in the community, and were asked to help spread the word that people should reach out when they need help – that Longmont’s officers do not ask about immigration status. When Mike asked if folks had encountered discrimination, two stories emerged – one gentleman was refused service in a Longmont store and a youth was unfairly accused, because of their ethnic backgrounds.
It was a morning of empowerment! The gentleman received an offer to walk back into that store with Chief Butler at his side; the youth received an apology and encouragement; everyone had their picture taken with the chief; and folks received the police chief’s business card with an invitation to reach him directly. Every conversation closed with a request that we take an active role in our neighborhood and community, and step up and speak up to eliminate fear, foster trust and build the kind of environment that makes us all successful.
Building a community that’s resilient, where everyone can reach their potential takes all of us. We don’t have to be a police chief to reassure a neighbor, run for office, volunteer for an hour or a day, let that car merge in front of us, contribute to charity, read to a child or hold the door for someone – we all have daily opportunities to improve life around us. Find your way to take action and let’s LIVE UNITED!
President and CEO
Foothills United Way