The Vernon Area Public Library's third annual Picnic With Police drew dozens of families Friday despite drizzly and humid weather.
Instead of getting wet and sticky outside, folks set up blankets inside the library's spacious annex and ate lunch as officers from the Lincolnshire and Buffalo Grove police departments read silly storybooks and talked about summer safety.
The Lincolnshire library has partnered with police on several community events since 2014. The goal is to help residents forge positive relationships with police officers outside emergency situations, library spokeswoman Catherine Savage said.
"Informal, informational interactions help develop trust and an understanding that the police are there to help," she said.
Past events have included Pizza With Police and Coffee With a Cop get-togethers.
Representatives from the two departments greeted kids and grown-ups at the door with free coloring books, stickers, pencils and temporary tattoos. Lincolnshire officer Bethany Brown playfully asked a few what they packed her for lunch.
Buffalo Grove police officer Danielle Baron entertained youngsters with the department's police dog, Hogyn. The well-trained German shepherd let kids pet him and even gave some high-fives on command.
Baron said events such as Friday's picnic are positive police experiences for kids, "instead of maybe sitting in the back seat of the car while we give their parent a ticket."
Chrissie Sileika of Lake Forest brought her 4-year-old daughter, Anneliese, and 14-month-old Faith to the picnic.
"I wanted them to know to go to police and feel comfortable with police if they ever get lost or (have) an emergency," Sileika said.