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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
One of the most pivotal roles the press has in American democracy is to expose government corruption wherever it arises. To this end, it needs to be pointed out that on Wednesday afternoon, October 2, inside the Old Post Road Elementary School gym, during a game of gatorball against a group of Walpole children, the Walpole police were cheating like fiends.
Rain forced the game to go from street hockey to gatorball - essentially dodgeball with the addition of bowling pins that need to be protected (if all your pins get knocked down, your team loses) - and it didn’t seem like the police were prepared for how many kids they would be facing. So, at various points, police officers used hockey sticks to bat balls away from the basketball hoop (before enough losses forced the officers to alter the rule from a scored basket letting the “out” guys back in the game, to a caught ball letting the “out” players back into the game), hid behind a hockey net to keep from getting hit, stuffed balls behind their backs so they didn’t have to run to half-court to get them, and employed other good-natured skullduggery to gain a competitive advantage.
You couldn’t blame them; they were getting killed out there so badly that when asked how the game went, School Resource Officer Tommy Hart was blunt: “Not well for the police. I think we need to get back to the basics and practice or something. Those kids were good. There’s some strong arms out there. I think the baseball or softball teams are going to have a good future.”
The game was all in fun, of course - part of a bunch of different activities the officers have been doing to reach out to the community, ranging from playing video games to attending various Walpole High School games.
“It’s National Community Policing Week, so we’ve been trying to think of different events to engage with the kids in the town,” Officer Hart continued. “We were going to do hockey today, but that got rained out. We have a bicycle obstacle course this weekend. We did high fives, we did Madden on Xbox with a cop, we’ve done street hockey before, we’ve done basketball, so we kind of try to do as much as we can. We went to the high school. We served snacks to them, we served lunch, we dropped by to say hello, we try to do Student Police Advisory Council. Throughout the week, we’ll try to go to sporting events and stuff like that. It comes from the top. The chief pushes community policing and we all believe in it, so it’s a fun week for us.”
While all the police activities have been designed to be fun for both the kids and the officers, on Wednesday afternoon, gatorball seemed a lot more fun for the victorious kids.
The biggest winner, though, was the Walpole community.