‘Meet the Badges’ brings Laurel first responders, students together for positive interaction

Inaugural 'Meet the Badges' goes over well
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 11:01 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - A Laurel businessman and the Laurel School District teamed up to give police officers, firefighters and students a chance to get to know each other in a fun and relaxed way Friday afternoon.

“It was just really fun for them to see us in kind of a relaxed setting, and we enjoyed it and hopefully, we can do it again,” Laurel Police Department Chief Tommy Cox said. “I’d be good with a couple of times a year.”

It was all part of the first “Meet the Badges” event at Laurel High School gymnasium.

“It’s really meant to be fun, but also informative,” Laurel High School student Johnny Sims said “Before we play, just talking about safety and just bringing our first responders and students together in a fun and creative way,”

It featured two basketball shooting competitions, a game of musical chairs and a brief basketball game between Laurel first responders and Laurel High School teachers and staff.

“Lots of times, we interact with (young people) on an emergency basis when we see them, but now, we let them know, we are human too, and we enjoy having fun also,” Laurel Fire Department Chief Leo Brown said.

Students also had several questions for first responders including:

  • What do you do when an officer pulls you over?
  • What should you do if you think a fire has started?
  • How do you become a police officer?

“I feel like it’s very important because students believe, typically, that law enforcement don’t really care about them, but now, as you see in the gym, they’re showing us that they care,” LHS student Rahkiera Lindsey said.

Laurel businessman Richard Brown came up with the idea for the event.

He said he hopes it will improve communication between young people and first responders.

“I think the kids enjoyed it and I think moving forward, this community has been made better by this event,” Brown said.

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