Police Strengthening Community Relations Through a Flag Football Game

img_4697While the duties of a police officer include protecting and serving both people and property, some officers from the Montgomery County Police Department had a different responsibility on Thursday night: protect your team’s flags and football.

Football players from the Watkins Mill High School football team partnered with officers from Montgomery Village for a game of flag football against Seneca Valley High School football players and officers from Germantown.

“Sometimes people break bread and they form a bond there over a meal. I think here we formed a bond over a game,” said Commander Dinesh Patil, of the Sixth District Police Station.

This game is a result of the continuing efforts between football players from Watkins Mill High School and the Montgomery County Police Department to find common ground. Earlier this year, some members of the team decided to take a knee before their Friday night football games which sparked a lot of discussion in the community. Following their decision to take a knee, players stood up at a Youth Town Hall meeting in October to explain that their reasoning behind taking a knee was to participate in a silent protest for the recent shootings of African-Americans by police officers.

Since the Youth Town Hall, both police and students have been working to build trust and understanding.

“Students saw police in a different atmosphere and I think it was positive and just lets them know they’re not just police officers, they are people in the community as well,” said Joseph Hooks, program specialist, Montgomery County State’s Attorney Office.

“This was actually a pretty surprising event. I didn’t expect so many people to come out,” said Seneca Valley High School Football Player Darius Golston “But it was great to see how police and young kids like myself interact and have fun together.”

Both police and coaches are hoping to make this an annual event in which all schools in the district could be apart of.

“This was so great to see people have fun and smile” said Watkins Mill Football Coach Michael Brown. “People who are normally on opposite sides on the field and in the community a lot of times to just laugh together […] I hope that this gets out to the community and catches on to other schools.”

Watkins Mill High School defeated Seneca Valley High School, 49-35.

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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