Montgomery County police officers join varsity football for dinner, discussion

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Montgomery County police officers join varsity football for dinner, discussion

Students and teachers listen to MCPD Officer

Students and teachers listen to MCPD Officer

Sarah Elbeshbishi

Students and teachers listen to MCPD Officer

Sarah Elbeshbishi

Sarah Elbeshbishi

Students and teachers listen to MCPD Officer

Sarah Elbeshbishi and Kevin Finn

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Officers from the Montgomery County Police Department joined members of the Watkins Mill High School varsity football team on October 28 for a dinner and discussion in the wake of recent events.  

This night was an opportunity for both the players and the police officers to discuss their different perspectives on kneeling during the National Anthem, which the football team has done for the majority of their games. It also allowed both groups to strategize ways to mend the relationship between officers and students.

“I would just say that I think it’s important for you guys to realize our perspective,” Sergeant Eddie Le said. “When we pull a car over, I have no idea how many people there are until I get up to it. No idea the race, how old, how many people, if you guys have a gun…it’s kind of like we’re blind.”

Both groups began the evening with introductions of themselves, providing the chance for each group to learn more about members from the opposite one. Many police officers included where they had grown up, where they had previously worked, and how they came to be where they are today.

“I grew up in Gaithersburg, I went to Gaithersburg [High School]…[and it] wasn’t until I joined the Marine Corps and left and went to North Carolina and went down further south…[that] it’s not like Montgomery County,” Sergeant Dan Helton said. “It was just kind of split up…so definitely having a perspective here makes me appreciate being here.”

Throughout the night officers gave tips and advice on how to ease and deal with any interactions with the police, positive or negative. “Show me respect, and I’ll show you respect. It doesn’t matter how old you are…just act like you would with a coach or another adult,” Le said. “But if I get that ounce of disrespect, I’m giving it right back… You dictate how it’s going to go.”

Varsity football plans to meet with members of the MCPD again to “discuss youth camps at our feeder schools with the police department, safe walk-home programs, and even a police and student flag football game to keep building these relationships,” science teacher Matthew Johnson said.

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