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.
A small part of the large "Dodge a Cop" crowd. The police wore tie-dyes.
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.
Police officer Ned Batlin proudly poses with players.
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.”
Four members of the Goons Inc. team (from left): Guerric Vornle von Haagenfels, Jack Dobrich, Thomas Cirillo and Colin Davis.
Police officers Howie Simpson and Eric Woods take time out from their warmup throws.
Isaac Stein is all business before the tournament.