Story and Photos by Michael D. Williams, Public Affairs Intern
Jumping for joy as the bowling ball ricocheted off the bumper to the pins, 4-year-old Lucas Stover was nothing but ecstatic to be participating in the “Stop, Drop, and Bowl” event on Friday morning.
The three-hour event, sponsored by the Fort Meade Police and Fire division, was held at The Lanes.
Fort Meade Community Police Officer Melita Jefferson, the event organizer, stood by Lucas, cheering him on.
“Bowling with [the children] is something I think is fun, and for the kids to see the officers smiling, it humanizes them,” Jefferson said.
She is hoping her efforts will combat any negative perspectives of the police community.
Four families participated in the “Stop, Drop, and Bowl.” The 11 children who joined in on the fun rented shoes and games for a discounted rate.
Jefferson also handed out coupons for free Slurpees at 7-Eleven.
Lucas and his two older brothers, Alexander, 6, and Thomas, 7, begged their mother to take them to see Jefferson after meeting her at the last community police event, “Reading With A Cop.”
Lucas even picked out his clothes, wearing a police jacket over his “Minions” T-shirt.
Anytime Lucas rolled a good ball, he would rush to find Jefferson and give her a big hug.
“I love him so much,” Jefferson said. “He comes to all my events.”
During the game, the youngster announced he wanted to be a police officer. When asked why, Lucas responded:
“I get to catch the bad guys!” — giving a big thumb’s up and smiling.
All of the community events are voluntary for police officers to attend. When they do participate, Jefferson said it is because they care and are passionate for their community.
Officer Paul Godwin stopped by and talked to Lucas about the job. After a quick discussion, Godwin deemed Lucas fit to be an honorary junior police officer and gave badges to him and his brothers.
This was the first event open to both police and firefighters. Jefferson plans to expand “Stop, Drop, and Bowl” to all of the Directorate of Emergency Services.
“We are all one team,” she said.
The next community policing event is Superhero Reading on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at Potomac Place Neighborhood Center, 4998 Second Corps Blvd.
During the event, DES will accept donations of school supplies that will go to the schools on post.
After the last slice of pizza was eaten and the bowling shoes returned, it was time for Lucas and his family to go.
Excited about the fun time he had, he could be heard talking all the way out the door. That is what Jefferson and Godwin were aiming for, she said, to form a positive connection between them and the community they serve.
“I’ve lived here seven years and I’m deeply connected to Fort Meade,” Jefferson said.