HURON — As a police officer, Sgt. Dennis Maude of Huron is trained to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary or to spot what may become a potential problem.
But during his patrol on Wednesday with rookie officer Cole Long, Maude spotted an opportunity to encourage and interact with a couple of boys tossing a baseball.
“We drove by while we were on our way to a call,” Maude said. “After we cleared the call, I saw them still playing and I told Officer Long to pull over and we would play catch with them for a little bit.”
The boys were Jaxson Spoonemore, 12, and his buddy, Leon Waldner.
“At first they looked like they were in trouble,” Maude said. “I told them we just want to play catch with the ball. They had the mitts and we said we would throw it for them. We played for maybe 10 to 15 minutes.
“It’s one of those things,” he said. “We want to interact with the community, more than just stopping cars and going for calls. Things have been going pretty rough in the officer community, and I thought it would shine a better light on us.”
Erica Woodbury, Jaxson’s aunt, said she was impressed that the officers stopped to play with the boys. Jaxson’s parents are Dandi and Chad Wyldes of Huron.
“I feel like it’s really going to make an impression on those young boys,” Woodbury said. “Sometimes kids grow up thinking you only talk to police when you’re bad. I think that was awesome — especially in the world we live in today. It’s nice to see some good news.”
Maude said they look for opportunities to interact with the public in positive ways.
“It gives us a break from normal activity and lets us see the brighter side of the job, as well,” he said. “We are out there to be more than the bad guy or a burden in their life when things aren’t going right.
“I think that a lot of us at the police department would like to be able to go out and do that more often, obviously when work allows it,” he added. “Get out and interact with people. Go out and talk to them. It improves relations with the community, even if it’s not their kids we were playing catch with or interacting with in a positive manner.”