A traveling LEO funk band, made up of officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC, has kicked off the summer with their annual Beat the Streets event.
The Beat the Streets community outreach event is a partnership between the Metropolitan Police Department, local social service agencies and community vendors, and features the officer-musicians jamming to funk and go-go music.
The Side By Side band, was first established in 1972 by members of MPD in DC, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services and the U.S. Park Police according to the band’s website.
Its mission, according to DC Police Officer James Thomas, is to bridge the gap between the police and the community.
Officer Lamumba Howard explained how he first encountered the band at his elementary school when he was growing up.
“When I was in elementary school, they used to come to my school all of the time,” he said.
Howard said that many of his role models were police officers, and the band also inspired him to get into music.
“Actually a lot of the male role models when I was younger were police officers” Officer Howard explained.
In 2018, the Side By Side band was revitalized with the singular purpose of building stronger community policing relationships and engaging with audiences of all ages.
MPD Chief Robert J. Contee’s vision for the department is to bring excellence and community policing to every neighborhood across the District. The band plays an essential role in connecting with the community in a musical, fun, and meaningful way.
Since 2018, Side By Side band has performed at multiple Beat the Streets events, community fairs, and a variety of DC events and shows.
The Side By Side band also partners with the School Safety Division to coordinate musical performances during Officer Friendly presentations at DC public elementary schools. The Officer Friendly Program, along with the Side By Side band performances, provides an opportunity for young people to interact with law enforcement officers in a safe and positive environment.
DC Police Commander, John Branch, said that the goal of the Beat the Streets event is to represent the police in a human light.
“It’s a good way to see them in a different light, we are human too. We want to give back to the community and have a safe environment so that we can give back to,” he said.