The Lawrence Police Department is well-known for their social media presence through its Twitter account. Its tweets are received in open arms by their college audience, resulting in several thousands of follows for the handle.
But there’s far more to how the LPD is interacting with its community. Many officers, like Sutagee Anglin, work as volunteer coaches in the Lawrence Youth Football League.
“Initially, my coaching experience was at the collegiate level with Haskell University,” Anglin said. “Some of the other officers who were coaching already knew I had a football background, and thought I’d be a good fit. I joined, and I enjoyed it.”
With so many officers involved with coaching in the league, it opened the doors to some friendly rivalry.
“There’s only 4 teams in town,” Anglin said. ” So there’s now a bit of rivalry between old football players who are now police officers. It’s a great way for us to give back to the community.”
Outside of football, Anglin occasionally volunteers at Haskell University to give stress-relief talks, which Anglin says is a satisfying way to give back to his alma mater.
“[Haskell] knew I was a police officer,” Anglin said.” But them still trying to make that connection and having them see us as human besides just seeing the uniform or the badge is great.”
Sgt. Myrone Grady sees interaction with the community as a personal responsibility taught to him by veteran officers. He hopes to change the narrative among children and teens that police are people too.
“A lot of times as a police officer when you’re rolling around and you pull up on some kids, they start thinking, ‘What did I do?'” Grady said. “Then you’re able to break down that barrier and just have a conversation with them. That’s what I do.”
Grady has worked with the Bigs in Blue program put on by Big Brothers Big Sisters extensively. Grady also emphasized that importance of working with kids in the community is far more important than any free time off.
“When you’re able to develop these relationships with kids, those relationships last,” Grady said. “When it comes to the kids, there’s no time to take off. I can rest when I’m no longer here.”