cops with iceI asked Molly Halford, who arrived in sparkly shoes and a big pink hairbow, why she came to the party.

“Because I was hungry,” answered the precocious 3-year-old, “and I wanted to see the policemen.”

Molly wasn’t the only one.

Hundreds of Lake Highlands residents showed up to Lake Highlands Plaza today to demonstrate their appreciation for Dallas Police officers. DPD made quick work of apprehending sexual predator Cesar Benitez, who terrorized the neighborhood in February and March when he broke into three homes to attack LH women. The party was organized by folks at Nathan Grace Real Estate and also sponsored by AssociaTitle and T.Hee Greetings & Gifts.

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Molly had been to the Northeast Substation with her mom, Lindsey, and baby brother to deliver goodies to the officers.

curtiss“I think I’ve put on ten pounds this week,” joked Officer Gomez, referring to the many who have stopped in to bring cards and food. “We’ve really appreciated it.”

Also arriving after a trip to the station were Katy and Greg Jensen. They dropped off Sweet Potato Brownies, then came to enjoy a hot dog and iced dessert from Jo Dawg’s and Enticed food trucks stationed in the Walnut Hill/Audelia parking lot.

Vickie Parker, president of Nathan Grace, was busy shaking hands with officers and passing out lunch tickets. Meals were free for Dallas Police, and when community members made purchases from food trucks, Highlands Cafe or T. Hee’s, a percentage was kicked back to the Assist the Officer Foundation. The ATO helps the families of hurt or fallen officers, Vickie told me, and Nathan Grace is accepting donations to the fund.

“I feel lucky to live here,” said Carrie Hill, a Nathan Grace agent. “In the last couple of months, with the officers stopping in regularly, I’ve gotten to know these guys. Before, when I saw them, it was like – oh, I’d better slow down,” she joked. “Now, I have such a sense of gratitude. We just want them to know we appreciate them.”

“We were glad to participate,” said Lynn Stillman of AssociaTitle. “We were so appreciative of the officers taking time to do what they did. One of our employees who lives in LH said she felt like she as on lockdown. Catching the rapist gave them the comfort to relax in their own homes. The sheer sense of relief was overwhelming.  This is a chance to show our appreciation – we can’t say no to that.”

stroller families“99% of the community is behind us,” acknowledged an officer who introduced himself as Dennis. “During that time, tensions were extremely high, everyone was afraid. After he was caught, everyone was so relieved and happy.”

“Folks have flooded the station with food,” Dennis continued. “I’ve had to start eating apples and oranges to keep from getting fat.”

“Nah,” joked Officer Newhouse, standing nearby. “You were getting fat already.”

Young mom Amy Theriot, pushing a double stroller and accompanied by her son in a Batman costume, was enjoying the sunshine.

“We just in moved in right here [into the new houses on Rockpoint Court] and we love, love our policemen keeping us what?…”

“Safe!” replied Batman,” ever the helpful sidekick.