COLLEGE STATION, TX — College Station student-athletes partook in a unique learning opportunity Wednesday afternoon, spending over an hour running football drills with a former Aggie football star and local police officers.
National sports nonprofit, the BamFam Foundation, aims to enrich the lives of young student-athletes in various ways, including means such as connecting players with police officers in a positive setting.
Midday Wednesday, approximately 80 football players with A&M Consolidated High School were gathered together by their coaches and the BamFam team, to spend time interacting with nearly one dozen officers from the College Station Police Department [CSPD].
"It's important to bridge the gap," explained Ian Leslie, community development director with BamFam. "It’s important to build those relationships from outside of the normal occurrence when a kid meets a police officer.”
This event specifically is known as BamFam’s ‘First Down' ride-along program, and features a professional athlete working alongside officers to speak with students."That bond we have with the cops is not where it should be, because they are here to help us and keep us safe," said Kendrick Rogers, former Texas A&M wide receiver. "And we take it for granted and, you know, abuse it.”
Rogers spent time running drills with the Consol players but also had conversations with police officers. As part of the BamFam event, he had shared a car ride throughout the city with CSPD Officer Chad Jones."It was good," Jones said. "He just had questions about the city, [asking] how do police interact with the community and the youth, what are the kinds of crimes we see just around this time.
The young men spent time not only playing with police officers and Rogers, but asking questions about how police officers go about their jobs. Some shared negative experiences from encounters with law enforcement, while others inquired about the process of becoming an officer.
"We hope that this is a start, that they can go and tell their friends and family about the experience they had right here meeting police, meeting someone who came up through the school and to the NFL, played [football]," Jones said. "And so they can see that; they can see the differences in lifestyles of people they can talk to.”