HPD takes the field with special needs players
Officers with the Hastings Police Department took the field at Crosier Park Wednesday evening to play ball with special needs players in the Bambino League.
The officers and Bambinos started out with a warm-up activity of standing in a circle and passing an inflated rubber ball from one to another. Then, the players broke up into three groups to play kickball or baseball with a plastic bat and ball.
Bambino head coach Dick Urwin said the officers’ visit was a surprise for the regular Bambino players. The Bambino League players have special needs and range in age from 8-74.
“I like to have a surprise for them every year,” Urwin said.
No one kept score during the games as officers joked and encouraged the players. They cheered players on and offered high fives when they took a base. Urwin said the interaction is uplifting to the players.
“It’s a big deal for them,” he said.
Urwin was inspired to invite the police for a game when he saw a police car near a baseball field. He contacted the department, which asked for volunteers to attend the game.
Sgt. Mike Doremus said the department supports officers interacting with members of the community. Doremus himself was on vacation, but wanted to come out for the game.
“These guys are big supporters of the police,” he said. “They look up to us so we want to do whatever possible to enhance that relationship.”
For school resource officer Travis Beahm, the game was a way to see some of his high school students during the summer. Beahm is based at Hastings High School during the school year.
“This has been great,” he said. “I get to see some of my students at a different level.”
Officers Mark Grupe and Tony Burnett were on duty during the game, but were able to participate through a temporary assignment.
Grupe said he and other officers try to attend as many public functions, such as National Night Out and others, to give people a chance to meet them outside service calls. Plus, this was a fun event for Grupe.
“We enjoy coming out here and being around all the athletes,” he said.
Burnett said this was the first time he has participated in a community outing as an officer and is glad the department supports such events.
“I think this is great,” he said. “It gives people a chance to see a different side of us.”
Lisa Baxa of Clay Center is the mother of one of the Bambino players. She was impressed by the officers’ willingness to volunteer time to play ball with the group.
“I think it’s good for the police to get to know who these kids are,” she said. “I like the interaction. They want to be here and be involved.”