- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Some Milwaukee police officers have traded in their guns for presents and Santa hats.

Officers from District 5 delivered gifts and meals to nine local families on Christmas Eve - a five-year tradition for the officers, who “adopt” a family they’ve come across in the community to spread some holiday cheer.

Milwaukee resident Jennifer Williams and her eight grandchildren were one of those families. And they weren’t expecting much of a Christmas. Williams took in her grandchildren, who are between 11 and 20 years old, earlier this year after their mother died of cancer. Then, Williams was diagnosed with cancer herself.

“They were asking for certain things, and I kept telling them, ‘We don’t have it. We can’t afford it right now,’ so for this to come, this is a blessing,” Williams told WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1CQpL7W ).

The police department’s connection with the community has been strained this year after an officer shot a black man downtown in April, which spurred weeks of protests. But the officers’ Christmas Eve tradition may have helped soften that divide.

“Don’t always judge what you hear because there’s good in everybody. So this shows, they’re looking out for the community,” Williams said.

The meals were donated, and officers used their own money and time to deliver gifts.

“This is the best day of the year, I think, for officers that work at this district,” Officer Lori Lammers said. “I really was excited today knowing I was going to bring something special to the families we serve every day.”

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Information from: WISN-TV, http://www.wisn.com

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