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Walmart boosts Fargo police effort to build trust among at-risk kids

FARGO - When Fargo police officers Matt Bloom and Matt Niemeyer visit schools and playgrounds they've got their radar up, but wrongdoing isn't necessarily their focus.It's more like: Does that child need a stocking hat? What about boots?"We're co...

Officer Michael Bloom accepts a donation from Matt Knight of Walmart on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in Fargo to support the community trust officers’ outreach program with at-risk youth in the community. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Officer Michael Bloom accepts a donation from Matt Knight of Walmart on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in Fargo to support the community trust officers’ outreach program with at-risk youth in the community. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - When Fargo police officers Matt Bloom and Matt Niemeyer visit schools and playgrounds they've got their radar up, but wrongdoing isn't necessarily their focus.

It's more like: Does that child need a stocking hat? What about boots?

"We're constantly running into kids who have needs," said Bloom, who along with Niemeyer constitute the police department's community trust officers, an effort to build trust and understanding between police and the neighborhoods they serve.

Bloom said teachers and counselors help identify families in need and from there it's a matter of getting to know parents and the things they want for their children.

"We've run into kids who don't have, maybe, winter clothing. We've run into kids who are getting into trouble with the law or school, and we want to plug them into programing, but their parents can't afford it," said Bloom, who on Monday, Nov. 13, accepted a check for $2,500 from Matt Knight, manager of the Walmart on 13th Avenue South in Fargo.

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Bloom said the money will help pay for things like participation fees for activities young people might otherwise not be able to afford.

"It's really a big help to the police department when a business like Walmart steps up and helps us like this," Bloom added.

Knight said Walmart is happy to support the community trust program, which is now a few years old.

"It's been a great relationship so far. I'm anxious to see what we evolve into," Knight said.

Bloom said for some young people in the community, home life is very difficult.

"The kid maybe is just living with a grandma or grandpa, or foster care. There's not a lot of food, there's not a lot of clothes.

"We're just trying to impact the kids the way we've been impacted in our childhood growing up. (We) try to give them the best life possible," Bloom added.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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