For the past two summers, Officer Scott Marks has spent his Tuesday afternoons building bottle rockets, potting plants, and hanging out with kids in the summer program at CommonBond’s Crown Ridge community. Marks is the Community Engagement Officer for the City of Minnetonka Police Department, and feels that as part of his role, helping youth develop positive relationships with police officers is a crucial part of police-community relations. “I’m just there to hang out, really,” he says. “I don’t take over any of the activities; it’s more about being part of it with the kids.”
On his last day at Crown Ridge this summer, Marks arrived with the ultimate show-and-tell: a police SUV and a fellow officer to answer questions. The kids climbed in and around the cruiser, learned about the tools and gadgets, and even got to switch on the lights and siren. Exclamations of “whoa that’s loud!” and “what’s this switch do?” immediately followed.
Officer Marks began his role in January of 2017. “It was a new position, and I wanted to be more purposeful in community engagement,” he recalls. “The department holds community events, but for a lot of folks out there, access can be a problem.” Factors like transportation, childcare, and work obligations can prevent many residents from being able to attend. When this is the case, there’s often little to no opportunity to ever interact with police outside of the context of law-enforcement. “I wanted to create a chance for kids to have a positive interaction with a police officer,” he says.
With another summer behind us, Officer Marks’s presence will once again be notably missed. As long as he’s able, though, he plans to return. “It’s a matter of showing up, of being really present to build relationships,” he said. We’re grateful for his time, and even more so, his attitude and relationship with the youth in CommonBond summer programs.