Game With a Cop big hit out of the box


The Bengals and Reds have teamed up for another community double play and the first event was turned neatly during Cincinnati' 49-9 victory over the Jets at Paul Brown Stadium.

Watching from the Hamilton County suite were 12 students from Cincinnati's Northwest Local School District accompanied by two teachers and two unpaid volunteer uniformed officers from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in the first installment of the department's "Game With a Cop" Program.

Sheriff Jim Neil, along with the architect of the program, Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover, unveiled the program in a PBS news conference attended by the Bengals director of business development Bob Bedinghaus and Reds COO Phil Castellini.

Designed to reward underprivileged students and to open up another avenue of communication between law enforcement and youth, the program continues for the rest of the Bengals home schedule this season and approximately 40 Reds games at Great American Ball Park next year.

The first group of students came from the Northwest RISE Program (Raising Individual Student Excellence), drawing from minority students at Colerain High School showing academic potential and the desire to earn a college degree despite economic challenges.

Two of the dozen students, Destyne Watson and Maiya Harrell, appeared at the news conference and talked about their experiences watching the Jets game while talking to the officers about potential jobs in law enforcement while dining on LaRosa's pizza, soft drinks and desserts.

Neal quizzed the students about the surprise delivery they got during the game from the adjacent box, where Cincinnati State president Odell Owens sent over a tower dessert.

"These kids were just elated to be there," Neil said. "They were wide-eyed and excited. They had pizzas, they had soft drinks, they had a big game in front of them and all the comforts of home."

Schoonover is hoping "Game With a Cop" takes off like his idea of a decade ago. "Shop With a Cop," where officers take needy children shopping for Christmas, has become a holiday tradition. The first returns, he said, were powerful.

"Some of the kids who were there couldn't even comprehend what that stadium was or whatever it was about," Schoonover said. "And they found themselves in a box watching the game with all the food and the drinks and the desserts coming. It was overwhelming for them."

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