Fairfax County Police Department Officer bonds with youth through after school programs

Officer Corey Clark of the Mount Vernon Station and other officers have been participating in after school sports programs with kids building relationships and community ties.

It was reported in November that Officer Clark requested permission from his station Commander Captain Shawn Martin to have members of the Mount Vernon Station take some time with kids from the Walt Whitman Middle School, just across the street and get involved with sports with them. The Captain was very supportive of the initiative and it has been working out very well ever since.

Fairfax County Police Department  Captain Martin was happy to let his Officers participate stating “This is an excellent opportunity to engage kids in a social setting that just may change their perception of police officers.”

Officer Clark worked with Afterschool Program Coordinator Saundra Perry who said that “Officer Corey—as the kids call him—is a Godsend,” and that she hopes he stays as long as possible. She further stated “I give him credit for not wanting to encounter our students in a negative way or under the legal system,”

She further stated: “In light of everything these days, I’m delighted to see police take a fresh approach to policing and meet kids where they are having fun rather than come across them later in a different capacity,”

“It shows them another side that this person is human,” explains Bateman Jones, a Fairfax County Park Authority Recreation Leader. “It’s not just a uniform which is a good thing.” I’m happy to see the police department get involved and they [the officers] just jump right into whatever sport they’re playing.” Jones remarked that most of the kids don’t even realize Clark and his coworkers are officers and surprised when they later find out.

The kids enjoy having him there as well. 14-year-old Donald Rush said, “He’s a really cool guy, like, he helps us out when we’re down or something.” 13-year-old Ahmed Hamlett told WJLA: “I’m a good shooter so he need my help, so I help him out,”

A couple of 8th grade boys said, “Officer Clark is cool and he’s good at football.” One of them recalled Clark was the reason he lost in a recent game: Clark was on the opposing team!

The after school programs are varied consisting of basketball or flag football. Of course there are other activities that the nearly 300 kids who participate in activities stay for including etiquette classes, robotics, academic courses, art and their most popular class: cake decorating. Officers can participate in any of these classes with the kids as they desire.

Officer Clark was interviewed by WJLA and said, helping the community is what being a police officer is all about. “Just coming here and interacting with the kids. They come up to me, shake my hand and just tell me how their day is going. That’s what really makes this whole process rewarding to me,” says Clark before one of the students grabs him to return to the game.

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