A new tradition: Minneapolis Police officers, community members decorate 4th precinct Christmas tree together

Community members and officers join together to decorate the Minneapolis Police Department 4th precinct Christmas tree.

Hundreds packed into the Minneapolis Police Department’s fourth precinct to hang ornaments on the Christmas tree Wednesday night along with officers.

The scene was a much different atmosphere than last year when two officers were fired for putting up racially-charged decorations on the tree.

It’s a new tradition at the fourth precinct that the officers and community come together to decorate a Christmas tree and organizers hope it builds lifelong relationships.

Kids lined up to get a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and rattle off their Christmas lists. Other children and their families sat with officers and decorated ornaments that they’ll hang on the tree together.

The event was organized by a number of community outreach groups and the police officers at the fourth precinct after last year’s incident where the officers’ actions sparked outrage across the north side of Minneapolis.

Community leaders knew then that the police-residents relationship needed to be repaired.

“We don’t want that to be the one thing that everybody remembers with this precinct, we want our children to know that our police department and police officers are friendly and safe people that they can trust and come around,” said Donna Morris, from a Mother’s Love Initiative.

Six-year-old Levi was excited to get a basketball from Officer Jason Andersen, the chaplain coordinator. He’s an opportunity for kids and cops to bond and see another side of policing.

“It’s such a blessing to be able to bless the community with everything we have,” said Andersen. “We’re going to do this for the next 20 years.”

All the gifts for the children were donated by an anonymous donor.