Officers build community bonds with summer charity events
Thursday, September 13, 2018
As summer was coming to an end, the Arlington, Virginia, Police Department was practicing using its muscle to pull an airplane. The pull was to raise money for the local Special Olympics.
The event, before it was unfortunately canceled by the presence of Hurricane Florence, was to feature teams of 25 attempting to pull an 82-ton FedEx Airbus A320 or United Boeing 757 airplane 12 feet in record time. But last year, the officers from Arlington got soaked to demonstrate precision rather than brute strength.
To promote and encourage attendance at a community block party, five officers shed their protective police gear and decked themselves in goggles and floral swim caps. They then performed a synchronized swimming routine. The hilarious event was made available on video.
Some of the officers commented on the swim, as reported by WJLA-TV’s Ryan Hughes.
"I think it's an idea of how creative the team can be and new and engaging ways to meet different people and show a different side of policing," said Capt. Adrienne Quigley, commander of the third district, which focuses on community outreach and engagement.
"It was a lot of pressure to make this happen exactly right and there was a lot of stuff that could go wrong with me being up front,” said Ofc. Ben Manning, who was in the front of the line as the officers jumped into the pool. “I really enjoy this part of what we do and being able to do real community outreach and show people the other side of police work.”
"We gotta keep it spicy and I jumped into the pool with the uniform, but the funny thing is this vest is not a life preserver, this vest is actually a weight," said Sgt. Damon Washington, who produced, shot, scored and edited the department’s promotional video.
"To be quite frank, it's refreshing to do something that's absolutely 180 degrees different than what police do on a day-to-day basis," said Ofc. Dan Gardner.
Chief John Carmichael of Walpole, Massachusetts, gets wet with a rubber duck.
While the Arlington group did not repeat its pool escapades, officers in Walpole, Massachusetts, provided amusement with rubber duck “duty” while lip syncing to “Blue” by Eiffel 65. The rubber duck was used to support Chief John Carmichael as he was joined by youth and seniors from the community doing the musical number in the public pool.
The event, rubber duckie and all, was also a fundraiser. Looking back, a rubber duck has made other appearances with law enforcement officers.
Not all police adventures with water are in the summer. In January 2016, Vancouver Mounted Police officers rode their horses into the waters of English Bay in Vancouver, British Columbia. The ride was in support of the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club, who have been sponsoring a New Year’s Day frigid swim since 1920.
There are block parties, summer fairs and carnivals across the country during the summer months. For some police officers it is a time for the “humiliation” of being dunked into vats of water for the amusement of community members.
Dunk tanks are popular fundraising tools. Several years ago, police officers from Cal Poly volunteered for the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity’s sponsored charity dunk tank that raised over $1,000 dollars for the local Special Olympics.
This year, the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, along with the Barnstable Police Department, held their third annual Unity Day. Part of the day included an opportunity to dunk an officer. Officer Brian Morrison sat in the tank as part of the department’s contribution.
The event brings the community together for a day of music, raffles and activities for children. The officers saw it as a means to engage with the community they serve.
The community of Campbell, California, also entertained the community and engaged adults and children alike with a dunk tank. The dunk tank was part of the Boogie Music Festival held in the spring. Officers and the entire community benefit from this, as the funds raised go toward additional equipment for the police department.
The summer season where officers got all wet in support of community service is coming to an end. To these officers and all those who risk their lives every day to protect us; we borrow the words Officer Ernie of Sesame Street uses to describe his “partner” duckie, “You’re So Fine.” Wet or dry, we are fortunate to have first responders who care.
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