FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Florence Police Department held a community outreach event Saturday aimed at building relationships with the city’s residents.

Cpl. Oscar Merchant, the coordinator of the “Unity in the Community” event, said those connections can help solve and prevent crimes.

“Our investigators need the community,” Merchant said. “That’s how they solve crimes. We want to make sure that partnership stays as healthy as possible.”

Merchant spent the day grilling up hot dogs and chatting with residents at Levy Park in east Florence.

“The conversations included what we’re going to do about crime in the area, increased patrolling and making sure we’re doing our part,” he said.

Henry Badie, a pastor and civic servant, and his wife, Valerie, stopped by to talk to the officers. He said he was glad to see the department reaching out.

“I believe we have a good chief and a good crew of officers that really want to work to see Florence stay safe,” Badie said.

Badie said Florence is a growing city, he said. However, with that growth can come problems, like increased crime, which make building relationships as important as ever.

“We want to see Florence flourish,” he said. “We want to see Florence grow and for some of that, you’ve got to be out in the community.”

The department partnered with several local businesses and organizations for the event, including Save-a-Lot, SCWorks and the Housing Authority of Florence.

Merchant said he wanted to inform attendees about job opportunities in law enforcement and encourage them to feel safe coming to the police for help.

“We can’t do this without the community and the community needs us to keep them safe, so it’s a joint partnership,” he said.