Law enforcement personnel in Dickinson, North Dakota, spent Saturday afternoon, March 5, bowling with local families in an effort to strengthen police–community relations.
The Stark County Association of Deputies hosted its annual “Bowl With a Cop” event at the Paragon Bowl Champs Sports Club in Dickinson, inviting children, teens and families to strike some pins, grab a slice of pizza and connect with area law enforcement from the Stark and Dunn County sheriff’s offices, Dickinson Police Department and Stark County State’s Attorney Office.
Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee says the event is all about building positive relationships with the community.
“Anytime we can have interactions with children it’s great. What I think we are missing out on a lot in this world are those opportunities for officers to have sustained interactions with children and their community,” Lee told The Dickinson Press. “I think the event today was a great turnout, and I’m hearing from the bowling alley that they believe that three times as many kids as usual are here this year. Everyone seemed happy with the event and we’re happy with that, all in all it’s been a success.”
As children entered bowling alley, they received a six-pointed star from deputies and were honorarily deputized to police their lanes during the event.
The sheriff said that events like this show that policing is more than just about enforcing law and order; it’s about ensuring the community has a positive view of law enforcement and is well served by those who are sworn to protect them.
“Our deputies play a critical role in identifying and addressing the needs of our communities. Too often, law enforcement falls into statistic-driven policing and relies on the number of arrests made, tickets issued and calls for service handled as a gauge of how effectively we are doing the job. Though these statistics highlight our efforts in maintaining law and order, and are great sources of data for us, they only reveal part of the picture when it comes to effective policing,” Lee said. “What we want to do is continue to strive for more than just statistics, but to maintain and build on our community’s satisfaction and trust in the Stark County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement in general. Events like this one today highlights those efforts and is something that the children love. It’s right up our alley.”
Lee also said community events allow officers to let off steam.
“Not only is this a great community relations event, but it allows us to find the kid in us and bring it out again. Opportunities like this are great for our deputies to engage and decompress,” he explained.
According to Lee, the sheriff’s office plans to hold more events in the future, including several Easter egg hunts in the community.
Residents who attended the event had a good time and were grateful for the work the sheriff’s office and other agencies put into organizing the event.
Dunn County Sheriff Gary Kuhn gave his perspective on the event.
“The turnout was phenomenal, and I was amazed at how many people showed up for the event. We were asked to help out with the event and I was told there would be 34 kids coming, but that number was far exceeded by the end of the day,” he said. “It was fun bowling with all of the kids and everyone had a great time. I think it speaks volumes for how the community and law enforcement work together in our area. The support from the area businesses and the parents is a great testimony of the relationships between the communities and law enforcement.”