Rebuilding Community Relationships

Chief Deputy Mark SchoonoverThe Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office works on a philosophy that we call cooperation in operation. This involves renewing important relationships with agencies across the county. It also includes initiatives that benefit the citizens of Hamilton County. An example would be our Game with a Cop program.

Game with a Cop pairs school kids in need—but who are showing promise academically—with law-enforcement officers who work in their school districts and with Hamilton County Deputies. The group gets together and enjoys local pro-sports games in Hamilton County’s suite at the stadiums. A lot of these kids only get to interact with police when law-enforcement officers arrive at their homes on official business. Now, through this program, they can see and spend time with police officers in a very positive way. It makes an impact.

A dozen students are picked by a school district. Chaperones and uniformed police officers from that district, and Hamilton County Deputies enjoy the game with the students. The Sheriff’s Office partners with the teams and vendors to host the Game with a Cop program for needy kids, with no county tax dollars being spent. This is a way to use existing resources in a very positive manner that everyone can agree with.

We started the Game with a Cop program with Bengals football mid-season this year, but we’ll take in the whole season next year. The program also extends into baseball, so we’ll catch 40 games at Great American Ball Park.

Many of these kids come from challenging backgrounds and would likely never be able to attend a Bengals or Reds game at all, let alone watch from a suite. Game with a Cop provides them an experience of a lifetime that reinforces the importance of being good citizens and doing their best academically. It also is a great way for Sheriff Neil and me to foster positive relationships with the public.

At the last game, a high-school student was in absolute tears over the Game with a Cop experience. He said he couldn’t imagine going to a game because he hadn’t seen the stadiums from the outside, much less inside during a game. Not only did he get to see the stadium, but he also got to sit in a suite and watch an absolute blowout by our Cincinnati Bengals. It was great!