DES MOINES, Iowa -- If practice makes the perfect jumpshot, it's also scoring points for community policing in Des Moines. Sergeant Ryan Doty with the Des Moines Police Department said, "Any time you can have a positive interaction with kids and officers in things other than police and citizen scenarios, that`s a positive thing."
In it's second year, the partnership between Des Moines Parks and Rec and the Des Moines Police Department called Kids vs Cops is placing a full court press on changing perceptions. "My hope is that sometime in the future they'll see an officer and it'll spark positive thoughts in their mind," said Doty.
Instead of patrolling through east Des Moines, officers are using Wednesdays to play pickup ball at the Four Mile Community Center. "All these officers that are here are here on their own time and came in on their days off," Doty said. Early dismissal on Wednesdays allows kids like Mark Yahkwenneh to see what's behind the badge. "It's not everyday you see cops play basketball with kids so it's a good opportunity for the community." He admits the program is eye-opening for him. He said, "At first, I was kind of scared of cops but now that I get to know them, it makes me get a different point of view of them and that they are friendly and nice." Mark is not alone. The game also changed the mind of Berhane Mikele. "I always thought differently of cops like racism and stuff." After playing against Des Moines' finest, Berhane said, "Now, they are not that bad."
While the final score had little significance, those statements proved to be a real victory for everyone, Doty Said, "Ultimately we are all a part of the same community here together. We all live here and we want to make this place a better place."
The next Kids vs Cops event is October 25th when they will play Dodgeball at Four Mile Community at 1:30 pm.
November 15th at 1:30 pm there will be a bomb sniffing dog demonstration.
January 24th at 1:30 pm there will be a Kids vs Cops floor hockey game.
February 28th at 1:30 pm there will be a SWAT tactical vehicle Bear Claw.
March 28th at 1:30 pm there will be Beer goggles and impaired driving obstacles.
April 25th the cops will choose what game will be played versus the kids and pizza will be provided.