COLORADO SPRINGS — On Thursday, the Colorado Springs Police Department’s (CSPD) Play COS program received a donation from SCHEELS to help supply each of the department’s patrol divisions with sports balls for officers to keep in their cruisers.

In January of 2021, the CSPD’s Community Relations Unit developed Play COS with the goal of supplying CSPD’s patrol divisions with sports balls (i.e. footballs, soccer balls, basketballs) for officers to keep in their cruisers to give out to kids and teens during their shift. The program also involves sports-focused events in which officers interact with community members through athletics and recreation.

At an event at the Colorado Springs SCHEELS location on Thursday afternoon, Play COS accepted a check for $12,000 from SCHEELS. CSPD said Play COS is already helping to build better relationships between the police and the community.

“Now when we come out, they’re looking for us to play ball with them, they want us to play dodgeball with them every single time. Which, I can’t play that much, because I’m getting old, and I have to take a bit of a break,” said CSPD Community Relations Officer Sgt. Jason Newton with a laugh. “But it’s really cool to see the kids now running up to our police officers.”

This connection with the community not only benefits the kids, but the officers as well.

“We want our kids to be able to feel safe and comfortable coming up to our cops, and it’s really good for our cops to reconnect with the community,” Sgt. Newton added. “It’s been a couple of hard years for us, but this program has really reenergized us and really brought us back to our community.”

In the first 18 months of the program, over 2,000 balls have been given away. CSPD has also hosted 52 Play COS events and made donations of sporting equipment to three community centers and 13 local schools.

To learn more about the Play COS program, go to coloradosprings.gov/police-department/page/play-cos.