DETROIT (WXYZ) — Special operations officer Lamar Harris of the Detroit Police Department works out of the 3rd precinct.
The 40-year-old Detroit native has been on the job for nearly five years. For Officer Harris, the Core City neighborhood is his favorite area to patrol because of some special new companions he's met there.
"They are like my little best friends," said Officer Harris.
From lunges to squats, pull-ups to pushups, Officer Harris loves being part of the Core City CrossFit Kids Detroit program.
"They challenge me, I challenge them," said Officer Harris.
But things were not always fun. The program's founder, Helen Taylor, says last October, Officer Harris stopped by the gym to introduce himself as one of the area's patrolling units.
"First, when the kids saw Officer Harris, they were a little upset, and scared. They asked me if they were in trouble. And why was he here? He definitely wasn't viewed as someone as an advocate for them," said Taylor.
That's when Officer Harris knew he had to change how they saw him.
"I wanted to come here and show them, when they see me, it isn't automatically wrong. They see a lot of stuff on social media, their perception of police officers was a little bit bad. So it was important for me to show a different part of policing, show them what we do as Detroit police officers. You can smile, shake my hand, we can work out together," said Officer Harris.
A couple of months later, the results speak for themselves.
"Do you like training with Officer Harris?" asked Faraz Javed.
"Yes, because he is an officer, and I want to be an officer," said 9-year-old Lamoure Timmons.
The program started last year with eight kids from George Crockett Academy across the street. Now, it's grown to over 30 children.
"They hug him when they see him. They are excited to see him part of the program. He is definitely part of our family. He is not going anywhere," said Taylor.
Core City CrossFit Kids classes take place twice a week at Core City Fitness. For more information, check out their Instagram @Core_city_crossfit_kids