Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) -  Several dozen local law enforcement personnel turned out for an appreciation dinner at the Rochester International Event Center Wednesday night.  

It was organized by two Rochester groups - the National Community Resource Center and the Sports Mentorship Academy.  

The organizations gave certificates of appreciation to Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson, Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgersen and Rochester Fire Chief Greg Martin.

The three leaders told the crowd about the challenges their personnel face each day dealing with traffic accidents, fires and crimes.They and other speakers also touched on the increased tension in recent weeks due to police-related shootings of black men and the killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

One of the themes of the event was the necessity of building bridges between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Former Sheriff Steve Borchardt told the gathering it is essential that the public support law enforcement personnel because they are also members of the community.  

The gathering was also shown a video featuring Caron Butler, who survived a troubled upbringing to become a star college and professional basketball player. In the video, Butler talked about the break he received from a police officer while he was a teenager that kept him out of prison and led to his basketball career.

A Rochester teenager shared a somewhat similar story. Robert Vidal told the gathering about his troubled childhood that led him to Rochester where he was a homeless teenager who frequently got into trouble. He was eventually offered a home by a Rochester family and with the help of the Sports Mentorship Academy was able to straighten out his life.


There is talk of making this an annual event.

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