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Casting a Wide Net of Respect

While it seems like a lot of the stories involving police interactions with the public are about situations gone wrong, it’s always worth remembering that those are the exception, not the rule, and the vast majority of women and men in law enforcement are there to make a positive impact on their communities.

We saw another example of that a few weeks ago when the fifth-annual Cops-N-Bobbers Youth Fishing event was held in Bloomingdale, Ohio.

It’s a program with a simple set of goals: To teach kids how to fish, enable them to connect with the outdoors and to develop positive relationships with law enforcement officers.

The local program traces its origins to 2015, when Bruce Palmer, a teacher and coach at Toronto High School and a former Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy, was looking for a way to create positive interaction between law enforcement officers and students. That’s when he and the Jefferson County Drug Task Force partnered to bring the national program to Toronto Junior-Senior High School.

Nearly 100 students participated in this year’s event, and they were able to connect with teachers, police officers, members of the drug task force, state wildlife officers, sheriff’s deputies and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers who demonstrated how to bait hooks, cast a line and reel in fish.

They also were able to get to know the students and work toward building relationships, while discussing the importance of staying away from drugs and crime — all while enjoying a day fishing.

Providing a safe community outlet for kids and working to establish trust, mutual respect and teamwork with police officers while building a strong community — those are standards the Cops-N-Bobbers program meets each year.

It’s good to know that officials with the Toronto police and the task force plan to support the event for years to come, building relationships and a stronger community one cast at a time.

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