The third annual Field Day with UPD brought over 400 students to the recreation fields on Wednesday, April 19.
Twenty police officers with ranks ranging from officer to chief of patrol from the University Police Department attended the event. Several officers traded in their uniforms for joggers and hoodies to enjoy a free barbeque, music and light-hearted field games with students.
“[UPD] is very enthusiastic about this event,” Maximillian Shaps, vice president of communications for the Undergraduate Student Government, said. “We get to connect in a way that’s outside of the purview of their job as law enforcement.”
The theme of cops vs. civilians quickly developed as the games kicked off. Two teams formed for a game of two-hand touch football between UPD and USG. Wolfie served as the referee, running up and down the field while miming calls.
Police Officer Chris Hayen tried to make a long pass, but it was intercepted by Thomas Kirnbauer, the administrative director for USG. Before Kirnbauer could gain any more than five feet, Police Officer Curtis Hoover ran in with a two-hand touch, regaining the upper hand.
Police Officer Larry Hamilton scored the winning touchdown, ending the game with a score of 3-0, UPD.
“I’m double their age, but the young guys just couldn’t handle me,” Hamilton said.
Later, the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps teamed up with UPD for a game of tug of war against students from Kappa Sigma fraternity. Nineteen people took the rope on each side.
The anchors on the UPD and SBVAC side, arguably the biggest men on their team, pulled with full force at the same time that Team Kappa Sigma gave in a little. The move made members of the UPD and SBVAC team fall on their backs by the force of their own weight, allowing Team Kappa Sigma to secure its victory as it dragged their fallen opponents through the grass, some laughing at themselves along the way.
“I think generally, police and fraternities don’t mix, but they really should,” Ahmed Khokhar, a senior biology major and president of Kappa Sigma, said. “We really should have more events like this where we can meet them in this light.”
Along with football and tug of war, other games included KanJam, softball, Frisbee and soccer, with equipment provided by Campus Recreation.
“A lot goes into playing games,” Tom St. John, assistant director of intramurals and sports clubs, said. “It takes sportsmanship, teamwork and camaraderie. If folks are engaging with each other on a non-competitive playing field, I think that’s a positive.”
The idea for a community event where students can play games with the police came about last year when Eric Olsen, assistance chief of police, saw the need to combat negative perceptions of police.
This year, UPD collaborated with USG, Kappa Sigma and Phi Chi Epsilon fraternity, who helped with general logistics, to put on its first outdoor field day. It was by far the largest showing the UPD has ever had at the event, Olsen said.
He and a couple of his fellow officers worked the grills for the first four hours of the event to feed the line of hungry students.
“I loved cooking up some barbeque and serving the students,” Olsen said. “In a way, it’s symbolic because we’re this campus’s police force, and we’re here to serve you.”
Officer Olsen hopes that one day this event will become a well-known campus tradition.