Friendly game of kickball highlights special partnership

Some say the answer to stopping violence is community involvement and bridging the gap between police and the people they serve.

Tuesday, the Norfolk Police Department went toe-to-toe against Booker T. Washington High School staff in a game of kickball.

Two groups that normally share a common goal for one hour on Tuesday became enemies, blowing off steam as a school year partnership draws to a close for summer.

“It’s very competitive and right now NPD is on top, and we’re going to remain on top,” said Officer Sam Nellum, a Community Resource Officer with Norfolk Police for nearly 30 years.

The teachers, wearing Booker T Washington maroon, were no match for the force of the police department in blue. But the game’s not so much about who wins or loses.

“It’s all about community partnerships,” said the director of school guidance Tiffany Hillian. “The police department supports us in so many ways for positive things that always aren’t talked about with our school.”

While during the game they are competitors, the point of the game is to strengthen their partnership so they can better serve the students.

“We bond so that we’re there for them when they need us and they’re there for us when we need them,” explained Officer Nellum.

“A lot of times they will help us with students that might have trouble finding their way,” Hillian explained of the role NPD officers play at Booker T. Washington, “They participate with some students as a mentor, so all of these things are very valuable at the school.”

So despite the friendly taunting, or the occasional arguing at third base, in the end it’s the students who walk through the halls who really win.

“It’s is a good way for us to just relax, be together, and have fun,” Hillian said.

The rivalry continues. Teachers and police officers plan to play against each other in a volleyball game in the fall.