BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Daytona Beach Police Department and the City of Daytona Beach will present the Daytona 100, a bike ride followed by a carnival on Saturday, April 29.
The free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the John H. Dickerson Community Center, 308 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Check-in for the bike ride begins at 8 a.m. Helmets and closed-toe shoes are required.
“We have several community engagement activities planned. This is one of them. The goal for this one is to get 100 or more kids on bikes with us. We are looking for a good time between the police and the kids in our community,” said Daytona Deputy Chief Jakari Young.
The bike ride was originally designed for kids ages 8-12 but younger kids will be allowed to ride.
“If any kid is old enough where they can ride a bike, we won’t turn them away. I will take every kid in the city. There is no limit,” said Young.
The bike ride will be three miles going west on Orange Avenue, south on Jean Street and east on South Street. A water break will be held at Turie T. Small Elementary with the ride continuing on South Street, then north on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and back to the Dickerson Center.
Following the bike ride, a carnival will take place with a deejay, bounce houses, games, a dunk tank, free food, giveaways, and McGruff the Crime Dog.
The police mobile command unit also will be there for the kids to tour it.
Parents also will be able to get their kids fingerprinted.
“We are encouraging anybody who can to come out and support this event. I am hoping that it will be successful, it grows and that we continue it for years to come,” Young remarked.
In a positive light
Another reason for the Daytona 100 is an opportunity for the Daytona police department to step up its community outreach efforts as well as reaching out to the youth.
Young expressed, “It’s important to reach the entire community, but it starts with our youth. This event focuses on our youth. They are our future. We want to show the kids that the police are good guys.
“Sometimes we get a bad rap for different things for different reasons. It’s often seen on the news.
We are working really hard in Daytona Beach to change the view and opinion. We want the kids to see us in a positive light instead of only when we make arrests,” he continued.
Planting a seed
Young is hopeful that a few kids will be inspired to become officers.
“You never know. These community engagement activities could be recruiting mechanisms. Maybe a kid remembers the event and may think of going into law enforcement or even our police academy when they get older based on positive action with the police,” Young offered.
Police leadership has stated in the past that Daytona doesn’t have many of the problems with its community – even the Black community – that some other cities and municipalities face.
“I agree with (Daytona Police) Chief Craig Capri that we normally don’t have those issues that you see in other communities, especially those that we have seen in recent years. I think that we’re blessed here. The community leaders have my personal cell phone number. They can get in contact with us directly to clarify issues instead of listening to rumors and gossip,” explained Young.
Change in focus
With 16 years of service with the police department, Young said he has seen the relationship between the police and the community improve during that span.
“It’s changed quite a bit, especially from the early stages of my career. Back then, we were more focused on special events – the Speedway and Bike Week and BCR (Black College Reunion), sound crafters, spring break, etc.,” he explained.
“We still welcome those events, but we realized our service in the community can’t slack because of those events. We must provide the same services and respond to calls everywhere in the city. We are more community-oriented now than we were then.”
‘Far from perfect’
Young admit work still needs to be done.
“We are far from perfect. We are working really hard to be transparent. If anything happens that may look suspect on us, we now have officers with body cams. Anybody can come in and ask for a review. We work quickly to look into matters and get them resolved.”
Along with the police department and the City of Daytona Beach, the Daytona 100 is sponsored by Daytona International Speedway; Mid Florida Jeep Club; The Heroes Guy, Your Mortgage Expert; Amscot; Daytona Toyota; Bethune-Cookman University; Wal-Mart and Stewart-Marchman-ACT Behavioral Health Care.
Kids can register for the bike ride at http:daytona100.eventbrite.com or with their school resource officer.