Our Blanchester mayor recently received an anonymous letter in the mail complaining about the conduct of one of our Blanchester police officers. The crux of the author’s complaint is that he had seen one of our police officers playing ball with some children in the parking lot of a trailer park.
The author posed the question, “Since when do we pay our policemen to play ball with children in the … mobile home park?” The author seemed particularly offended that the play was taking place in a parking lot and not on a nearby field.
Since the author was anonymous, and since the envelope had no return address, I thought perhaps I might answer his or her question in this format.
I started here 15 years ago as police chief in October of 2006. Therefore, the answer to the first question is that we have paid our police officers to play ball with children since October of 2006. When they are not answering calls, I encourage our police officers to have informal interaction with citizens, and that includes with the children in our community.
It makes sense to me that a good, honest relationship between the kids in town and our police officers can only bring positive results. It also makes sense to me that informal interaction is a good way to build those relationships. It shouldn’t take a formal program funded by a government grant to put kids and cops together.
I admit I am not well informed as to why the ball game was taking place in a parking lot and not in a nearby field. Perhaps the owner of the field doesn’t like the children on his property. If the children are permitted to play on the field, perhaps no neighborhood adult has ever told them that.
I have a hunch that children would rather play ball in a field than a parking lot. One thing I can say for certain is this: Children who are playing ball, be that in a parking lot or in a field, are not stealing, damaging property, drinking or using drugs, and that’s good for everyone.
Scott Reinbolt, A.S., B.S., J.D., is Chief of Police for the Village of Blanchester.