Police hope 'Day of Unity' sends message of solidarity

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Hundreds of people joined Indianapolis Metro Police officers Friday to honor fallen Officer Perry Renn  He died in a shootout on July 5th.

Officer Renn's memory was part of Unity Day on Monument Circle where Hoosiers and officers talked about what residents can do to make our city a safer place to live.

Officers from IMPD's mounted patrol joined the lunchtime crowd to meet residents. It's part of providing a friendly link to the police and citizens.

"They constantly take pictures of us, pat the horses, and come up and talk to us. It's great, it kind of breaks the barrier," said one of the officers who is part of IMPD's mounted patrol.

That's what this day of unity is all about.

"I've been on this police department since July of 1983, and I've seen a lot, good and bad," said Sgt. Curtis Hanks, IMPD.

In all those years, Sgt. Hanks says moments like this makes his job worthwhile.

"The most vocal ones sometimes are the ones who don't support us, so it's good to see people coming out as show us they appreciate what we do on a daily basis," he said.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite told the crowd if they got to work safely today, to thank an officer.

While these officers are united in the fight to keep you safe, the idea to show unity within our community came from an idea by Officer Perry Renn's widow.

Lynn Renn penned the following letter to the city in response to Day of Unity:

The Indianapolis Day of Unity is a wonderful opportunity for the people of our community and our police officers to come together, to create mutual respect and to appreciate one another. It can be very easy to lose the momentum of positive progress in the community when concentrating on negativity of the past. Our citizens build our city while our officers protect it. I believe that it is time for both sides to unite as one and work together to make this city a safe and enjoyable place to live. If we are able to build positive relationships between the community and law enforcement now in times of peace, we will be better able to support and lean on each other in times of tragedy."

"There are hundreds if not thousands of Perry Renns out there," said Rick Snyder, Fraternal Order of Police. "They have different names like Julie, Todd, and Frank."

While they suit up every day, they know the enormous risk.

"Perry didn't come home that night. They go to work every day knowing that there's that chance," said Snyder.

"We hear about things in our community that are considered bad, but let's talk about what's good and this is an opportunity to do just that," said Chief Hite.

A t-shirt campaign has also taken off, rallying support locally and globally.

The FOP began selling the black shirts, which sport a badge with a blue stripe and the message, "I will get out of my car" as a show of solidarity among police. The slogan refers to the death of late Officer Renn, who was shot after he got out of his car on a call of a domestic disturbance.

Hite said it also has another meaning about community policing.

"Get out of the car so you can get to know people, so you can spend time before things happen, so you can put chips in the bank of trust so when things happen people are not strangers to you," Hite said.

According to the FOP, 11,000 t-shirts have been sold in 46 states and five countries.

WTHR launched an initiative in July encouraging residents to take the Blue Pledge and report suspicious activity to 911. You can also report crime here.

More events Saturday are designed to solidify the bond between people and their local police departments. The "Victory Over Violence" event starts at 11 am at the Church of Glory on Forest Manor Avenue. Westfield is hosting a "Safety Festival" From 10 am to 6 pm at the Village Park Plaza.