Fresno police officer bonding with the community on his own time

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hundreds of people came together for National Night Out annual block parties held in different parts of Fresno.

The organizers at the events are trying to promote safety and bonding within the community. But one Fresno police officer is doing that on his own time even after the block parties are over.

Officer Joel Santos is off duty. But technically this policeman is never off the clock. Especially when he's catching up with new friends. One particular friendship began on Monday, when Ceriah, 9, and Elias, 4, were walking with their mom.

"I'm in the middle of a call but I see them and as they continue walking by he's looking back and he's waving at me," said Officer Joel Santos.

An earnest wave that caught Santos' eye and tugged at his heart. "It's not very common which is why it caught my attention. We may get a little wave or I'm pretty friendly I'll wave but they're hesitant. They'll just walk by."

Which is why Officer Santos said he drove around searching for them after he was done with his work.

"When we waved the officer he followed us," said Ceriah Aguilar.

Photos show the precious moments after Officer Santos gave them teddy bears.

"The police got me the bear," said Elias Gonzalez.

"I'll tell you it makes me feel so good when I see our officers do something in such a positive fashion especially with our youth," said Chief Jerry Dyer of the Fresno Police Department.

The gifts are one of the many ways Dyer said his officers work to build relationships with people in the community. Like "National Night Out" where community members come together for a night of fun with police and family. Because all it takes is one good deed to make a police officer's job feel a lot less like work.

Chief Dyer said those teddy bears also come in handy when officers respond to crisis situations and children need something to smile about.

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