Dozens gathered in downtown Topeka Saturday to start painting a new community mural.
The Topeka Police Department partnered with ARTSConnect on the project.
People of all ages grabbed a paint brush and got to work.
“We believe that as part of the Topeka community, we have to have a part in beautifying it and having some pride in our community,” said Marie Carter with the NAACP Youth Council.
Lt. Joe Perry with the Topeka Police Department came up with the idea back in 2013 as a way to prevent property crimes.
“Criminals don’t want to get caught,” said Perry. “So, if it’s a dark shady area and no ones watching them, they’re going to commit their crime with no fear. But, if there’s all of a sudden something people want to look at, they start showing up and now the criminals are like ‘Wait, I don’t want to get caught’.”
Since then, 13 murals have been painted across the city.
“Everybody wants to do something and art is one of them,” said Andy Valdivia, who drew the sketch for the mural. “This is an opportunity at least to get a taste of it.”
Not only does it help beautify the city, it also helps strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
“They paint next to us, we paint next to them,” said Perry. “Next time they see us on the street, they’re not scared of us, and maybe they’ve got some information we need that could help us solve a homicide whereas before, they were too scared to talk to us.”
The murals represent the shared effort to make the community a better place.
“It’s imperative that we work together as a community to strengthen it,” said Carter. “We want people to move here. We also want people to stay here.”
Everyone is welcome to come to the second day of painting on Sunday, June 16 from noon to 4:00 p.m.
The mural is located behind the Law Enforcement Center at S.W. 3rd St. and S. Kansas Ave.