Operation Child’s Play: Athens Police give out footballs, frisbees to kids

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ATHENS, Ala. - With the help of $2,500 from the Athens Rotary Club, kids around Athens got a fun summer surprise from officers on patrol.

Footballs, beach balls, and frisbees complete with a logo are in patrol cars, and end up with local kids.

"What it's going to allow us to do is not only hand this to them but possibly throw the football a little," explained Chief Floyd Johnson.

"The Rotary motto is Service Above Self, we're always glad to be of service to the community and this is a worthwhile project for everyone in the community," explained Bill Ward, president of the Athens Rotary Club.

Patrol officers carry the toys and use them to escape their cars and play with children in the community.

"It opens up a whole dialogue of information back and forth," said Chief Johnson. "It leaves a good impression on them and it leaves a good impression on us being able to reach out and talk to them."

APD started the initiative over July 4 weekend.

Chief Johnson explains that for years now, the department has had outreach initiatives, including Coffee With a Cop, community meetings, and distributing teddy bears to young children.

"Until you make that contact with a child, they're just going to see a police officer riding down the street," said Chief Johnson.

In light of recent events its even more important," said Ward. "A lot of children grow up with a wrong attitude about police officers, and that's not their fault. This is one way of changing that."

Chief Johnson says they will continue distributing the sports balls and frisbees until they run out. He added they want to secure more funding to continue the program.

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