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HAMMOND — Wednesday's pop-up picnic at Edison Park strengthened the police department's solid relationship with the community, Hammond police said. 

Hammond Police Lt. Steven Kellogg noted the city has had no homicides this year — something that hasn't happened by this date for 38 years, he said. 

"We couldn't do this without the community," Kellogg said. "It's all thanks to our continued, close relationship with the residents who report criminal activity to us." 

Wednesday's pop-up picnic is new to the Hammond Police Department, which also hosts National Night Out and Coffee with a Cop among other events. 

While some of the department's higher ranking officers played soccer with the neighborhood kids, co-workers passed out "Back the Blue" wristbands and badge stickers, fingerprinted youth to be entered into the department's identification system and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

Children darted across Edison Park's newly constructed playground and jumped in the bounce house before lining up beneath the pavilion for cupcakes donated by a local resident who was a contestant on Food Network's "MasterChef."

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Sgt. Aubrey Thomas, who presented the idea of a pop-up picnic in the park, said events like this help Hammond families see their police officers as every day people and forge relationships between the department and youth in the community. 

"A lot of these guys are volunteering right now," Sgt. Kelly Mickey said. 

Mickey said she takes pride in being part of the Hammond Police Department because of the city's low crime rate compared to neighboring towns.

A day care center based in Calumet City took a field trip to tour Hammond's parks because it felt the neighboring city's parks were safer than its own.

"That says something about Hammond. When you call the police, we show up," Mickey said. 

Thomas said the department plans to turn the new event into a summer series. The next pop-up picnic will be from 1-4 p.m. June 26 at Pulaski Park, he said. 

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