It’s not often a kid can whip balls at a cop’s head — and get away with it.
And vice versa.
But last night in the Staples fieldhouse, 100 teenagers and a dozen Westport police officers did just that.
The event was Dodge-a-Cop — the Westport Youth Commission‘s 1st-ever dodgeball tournament. It’s hard to tell who had more fun: the guys (and gals) with guns, or the kids who run from them.
Actually, that was the whole idea: getting police and teenagers to interact somewhere other than at a traffic stop or house party.
The Youth Commission — whose 15 teenage and 15 adult members include police officers Ned Batlin and Sereneti Dobson — and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group have been examining ways to help teenagers see cops as human beings who care about kids. And ways to help Westport policemen and women — most of whom do not live in town — see teenagers as more than just stereotypes too.
Staples dodgeball players — who came from a broad swath of the student body — formed their own teams. At least one officer joined each team.
The only qualifications to play: an arm. Guts. And $20 per team.
Because Dodge-a-Cop also served as a fundraiser — for the Toys for Tots drive, the Westport Police Department’s annual collection.
It was a great evening. Competitive dodgeball was played. Funds were raised. Pizza was eaten. Cops and kids hung out together. No one got arrested.
And the winners got t-shirts.
Which said: “I Dodged a Cop.”