American Eagle Screen Printing and Embroidery in Johnstown presented 500 blue wristbands with the words Give. Love. Respect. to the Johnstown Police Department on Monday, Sept. 12, 2016.

Give. Love. Respect.

It's those words on a wristband that an area business hopes will encourage residents to work together with police.

On Monday, American Eagle Screen Print and Embroidery, 1107 Cushon St. in Cover Hill, presented the Johnstown Police Department with 500 blue wristbands to be distributed to children and adults while the officers are patrolling.

"The goal is to create community togetherness," said Jody Altemus, assistant to the owner of American Eagle Screen Print and Embroidery.

"A bond with the children is what we are looking for."

She said she got the idea to produce the wristbands after seeing on Facebook Johnstown police officers giving "tickets" for self-serve drinks from Sheetz to residents who they saw doing good deeds within the community.

"I went to my boss to see if we could get on board with this and donate something," Altemus said.

"I came up with the idea and wording. I contacted (Johnstown Police Officer) Chad Miller and met with him and we agreed to move forward with it."

The hope is that children will realize that police officers aren't scary, but here to help.

"We want them to create a bond with police officers and not be afraid to talk to them," Altemus said.

"If they follow the message on the bracelet and use it in everyday life, it will have a positive effect."

Johnstown Police Sgt. Joseph Eckenrod said the bands will make officers more available for community-oriented policing.

"We're able to sit and talk to people and it breaks the barrier down of the badge and the cruiser, where they may be afraid to come up to us," he said.

"If we can talk to people, there's a better understanding of what our job is and what they expect of us."

He said the wristbands are a great continuation of the Sheetz ticket program.

"There are a lot of people afraid of the police, but we want to take that barrier down where they understand we are here to protect them and serve them," Eckenrod said.

"We also rely on them for information to help us out because after all, this is our city totally."

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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