Breaking tackles helps break down barriers between law enforcement and Myrtle Beach youth

MYRTLE BEACH – Firefighters, police officers and members of the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand came together on Saturday for the first ever “Blue Lights and Red Stripes” Flag Football Game.

The competition was stiff at Ashley Booth Field as the Myrtle Beach Police and Fire Departments squared off on opposite sidelines, but both for the same team.

Members of each department joined up with local kids from the Boys and Girls Club to show them that members of law enforcement, really do care about the community.

“We wanted to show our kids that the police department are really there to protect and serve them and they really are just people like they are,” said Boys and Girls Club CEO, Dione Buonto.

A message that was felt by club member, Clinton Hudson, “it feels a little better, they aren’t doing anything, just hanging out with us. We’re not doing no bad stuff, just cooling it.”

Lt. Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police says a little friendly competition can break down barriers that often exist between the police and young people.

“So what we’re trying to do is let them see that, just because we wear uniforms we are people too and we are here to help,” said Crosby.

Crosby said being able to get to know the kids, and the kids getting to know them will also help build lasting relationships moving forward.

Club member P.J. Thomas says at a time of heightened tension between young people and police, fun events like these can really help change perceptions.

“We always see them in uniform, they’re arresting someone or pulling someone over, but we get to see them in a different light, they’re out here playing flag football with kids,” said Thomas.

The police also changed some minds with their football skills on the gridiron, “yeah, yeah (laughs) They’re giving us a good competition. I didn’t know they were such athletes, we know the fire department works out all day, but they have some real good competition out here,” said Thomas, who was playing for the “Red Stripes.”

Lt. Crosby, who was on “Blue Lights”, wouldn’t gloat after a long TD run however saying, “it was all luck.”

Nearly 60 people participated in Saturday’s game and organizers say they want to make it an annual event on the Grand Strand.

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