Plant City Police took on Plant City’s youth in a dodgeball event at the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center this week.
After taking part in a Cops vs. Kids cook-off at the Planteen Recreation Center last week, several members of the Plant City Police Department took to the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center on Monday where they faced off against a number of different age groups in a friendly dodgeball competition.
“It was great,” Chief of Police James Bradford said. “Summer’s here, the kids are here at the rec center and as the Police Department we want to take the opportunity to interact with them and have fun at the same time. Basically this is a way to just come out and have fun, give them a little excitement and give the police department a little excitement too.”
Excitement indeed for the joyful police department, as PCPD went undefeated in their eight dodgeball games on the day.
Not remaining isolated to just sports-centric activities however, Plant City Parks and Rec’s summer camp strives to give the kids in attendance a chance to be exposed to a number of different potential interests, from arts to STEM-focused activities to even cooking.
“I think (the events have) been really good,” recreation supervisor Julie Garretson said. “I wasn’t at the chili cook-off, but the feedback was good. I think we may have some some future chefs in the building, maybe some not-so-future chefs, but I think that they enjoyed that and then I’m assuming that they enjoyed this out here as well.”
The recent events held between PCPD and Plant City Parks and Recreation not only afford those within the rec center’s summer camp the opportunity to have fun and explore different interests in a safe environment, but also help in building a bridge between the city’s police force and their community.
“It’s hugely important,” Bradford said. “We get to get out and interact with the community when we’re not wearing our blue uniforms, driving the police car, doing police work. We get to see them and conversely, they get to see us not wearing a uniform, approachable and we can talk to them and have fun with them. It breaks down barriers and builds relationships.”
While Bradford has held his title as Chief of Police for just seven months in Plant City, he has put an emphasis on those relationships between the department and the community that they serve. In addition to the cook-off and the dodgeball event, Bradford says that while nothing has been finalized as of now, events for the future are up on the planning board.
“We want to build on the community relations,” Bradford said. “Plant City is still a small town and people love to interact with events and their community.”
“I think that with Chief Bradford and the mentality that he brings to Plant City is that he wants to make sure his officers and his team are involved in every aspect of the community,” Garretson said. “Getting interaction with our youth is obviously very important for them to understand that following the rules is important and following the law is important and making sure that there is appreciation both ways. The cops are appreciating our youth and our youth are also having that respect for law enforcement. He loves to have a good time so I think that when we chatted and brainstormed about getting some things together for our summer program it just kind of snowballed into different ideas, so we’re looking forward to doing more things with him.”