“We’re gonna beat them,” giggled several of the Boys & Girls Club teens as they laced up their shoes and practiced their jump shots before their basketball matchup against the La-Grange Police Department.
And beat them they did.
But, regardless of the score, on Saturday, January 28, civilians and law enforcement came together as one community to tear down stereotypes and build up relationships.
“[The police officers] are motivating their kids and letting them know they can be their friends,” said Betty Jones, the Sports Coordinator for the LaGrange Boys & Girls Club.
Jones went on to explain how LPD stops by everyday to do safety checks on their campus, but it was a special experience for the children to actually interact with the officers who safeguard their Boys & Girls Club Clubhouse day in and day out.
From John Lewis’s speech at LaGrange College and Warren Temple’s time for reconciliation to the Boys & Girls Club’s communityfriendly basketball game, LaGrange City Police Sergeant Marshall McCoy believes that this past week provided an opportunity for everyone to put aside their differences and come together as one body.
“It was an enjoyable event,” McCoy said. “We had the event just prior to this [at Warren Temple] where you have recognition of the way things used to be with the City of LaGrange, and just a few days later you see the police department here [at the Boys & Girls Club].”
McCoy is proud of his department’s partnership with the LaGrange Boys & Girls Club. “They all had a lot of fun,” he said. “I think the kids had a great time, but it’s all about building these relationships. And the best time to build relationships with kids is when they’re young.”
It’s hard to change an adult’s mindset, explained McCoy, but he believes that this basketball game was a great way for the youth of the community “to see the police in a positive image.” Daniel Davis, the Hogansville Boys & Girls Club leader who put together this event, has already hosted a basketball game with the Troup County Sheriff’s Department and is already making plans to schedule an athletic competition between the West Point Police Department and the Hogansville/ LaGrange Boys & Girls Club members.
With a better understanding of who the police are outside of their uniforms and cop cars, the LaGrange Boys & Girls Club’s children and teens look forward to other ways that they can further their relationships with the LaGrange Police Department and other local law enforcement.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer