Cops in the Park coming up

Officer Szmansky: ‘Kids want to get outside and do things’

SWARTZ CREEK – Officer Ken Szmansky invites area youth to participate in the annual Cops in the Park set to begin Monday, Aug. 28, at Elms Park.

This year, Cops in the Park will be a five-day event. Parents need not register their youngsters in advance. When the banner is up in the park, the activities are happening, Szmansky said.

“Just show up,” he said, adding that children who will participate all day – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – should bring lunches.

Participants should be at least 5 years old and must be self-sufficient or accompanied by a parent or guardian. An adult must sign-in each child and provide emergency contact information.

There is no cost to participate.

“We’ll do every type of sport, from basketball to dodgeball to volleyball to baseball to flag football,” Szmansky said. “We’ll do arts and crafts. We’ll do initiative games, or team-building activities. We’ll do balloon tosses and egg tosses and pizza-eating contests – all those fun things. If it’s raining, we’ll stay under the pavilion and play board games.”

Cops in the Park is a way for kids to get outdoors, establish positive relationships with police officers and become vested in their community.

“People always say kids don’t want to get outside and away from video games and cell phones,” Szmansky said. “I find that kids want to get out and do things.

“I think, sometimes, we pigeonhole them. Because it’s easier for us to get a cell phone or a tablet and buy more video games, we assume they don’t want to get outside.”

Because the youngsters help tidy up the park grounds every day, they gain a sense of ownership, he said.

“We beautify the park,” he said. “Years ago, we had an issue with vandalism. Ever since we started the program, kids take an ownership to the park and enjoy getting out there.”

Children who participate in Cops in the Park will “have a great time,” Szmansky said.

“They’ll be out here all day having a blast,” he said.

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