May 25, 2015 5:50 PM EDT

The Chicago Police Department held its first-ever formal “Daddy Daughter Dance” Friday.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing because some people don’t really associate with their fathers,” 13-year-old Brejay Payne. “So once you come out, dressed up, and dance, eat, and play with your father, it’s kind of a nice day.”

But even girls growing up in poverty and violence-ridden areas without fathers got to attend the dance with some special escorts: Chicago Police Department commanders, sergeants and officers who stood in for needed dads. The officers wore their dress blue uniforms to escort the girls, also dressed in formal wear.

The event was organized by Chicago police districts 5, 7 and 9, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, who hope to make it an annual event.

“They actually get to see us to find out that that the police are nothing but people. We just happen to have uniforms on,” Commander Larry Watson told NBC Chicago.

This article originally appeared on People.com

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