Two Franklin parents laughed when they saw a text message from their 12-year-old son last week: He’d just beaten a police officer in a game of P-I-G.
After coming home from basketball camp at Franklin Community High School, 12-year-old Michael Beall decided to shoot hoops in his driveway and was joined by an unexpected opponent.
While he was on patrol in the area of Branigin Creek Court, Franklin police officer Ryan Mears saw Beall playing in his driveway and asked if he could play.
The two played a pickup game of P-I-G, and Beall won.
“I was shooting basketball, and I noticed that he was driving around the neighborhood. He turned around and parked by my house and asked if he could shoot with me,” Beall said.
“I think it’s pretty cool he took time out of his day to do that.”
The gesture is something Franklin police are trying to do more: Get involved with local kids in a positive way.
“We thought it would be a good idea to meet up with kids like that. So many times in this job, there are so many days when you met people on bad days, whether it’s when a relative died or you’re telling someone to turn their music down, or they’re a victim of a crime,” Mears said.
Meeting just to play basketball is a good way for kids to get acquainted with police on a good day, so that way they’re not afraid, he said.
“It’s good for (kids) to know we’re there to help them no matter what,” Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.
“If they know us as a friend or a nice guy, we end up with a better working relationship with the community. They grow up knowing we’re the good guys and that we’re friends and we’re human, too.”
That makes kids more comfortable telling police if they need something or if they see something suspicious, O’Sullivan said.
Rick Dalton, Beall’s dad, thought it was nice of Mears to play the game, but also emphasized the importance of police being people that kids can relate to. Dalton is a former police officer and his father is a retired police officer, so the family knows the job better than most.
“The only time (most kids) see police officers on TV or the news is either when they’ve responded to someone’s issue,” he said.
“I think the police officers doing this shows them that they’re not just there when there’s something bad going on.”