Typically, police officers teach children not to take treats from strangers. But on Saturday, the Lafayette police department spent the day driving around the city handing out free cups of Kona ice at different parks and apartment complexes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“It’s a program that we do to help bridge the gap between the community and the police department,” Officer Toby Bushong said.

Anyone and everyone was welcome to come out and get free shaved ice, spend some time with Lafayette police officers and watch them get pelted with ‘snowballs’ made of the ice thrown from the inside of the truck. Officer Mark Griffith was hit by 10 snowballs before noon. The officers working on the truck were handing chunks of shaved ice to kids waiting in line so they could add to the barrage.

Some of the officers even had their families come out for free ice and to spend time together in the parks. Bushong’s wife Jen, three daughters and son came to visit when the truck stopped at McAllister Recreation Center.

Handing out free shaved ice all day cost around $4,000, according to Lt. Randy Sherer, but sponsers Kona Ice and Security Federal Savings Bank helped cover the cost.

By 11:30 a.m. one of the two trucks had already handed out about 100 of its 1,000 cup goal.

To drum up business, Bushong drove through neighborhoods announcing free Kona over his P.A. system, and occasionally stopped traffic to let people know.

“I think it’s really nice and fun,” Lafayette community member Meghann Dubea said about the free Kona.

Officer Marc Griffith said the officers received overwhelmingly positive feedback the entire day.

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