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March 12, 2011

Police commissioner greets young lacrosse players

The cameras were on but the lacrosse stick-carrying-teens engulfing the city’s police chief were reluctant to smile. A coach urged them to loosen up a bit, but their game faces were on.

“This is lacrosse,” Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III reminded the crowd gathered next to the Johnny Unitas statue at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. “You’re either going to smile or act real tough.”

In the end, everyone smiled as Bealefeld draped his arm around the middle and high school students who are part of a growing lacrosse league that partners with Baltimore police officers throughout the city.

The Parks & People Foundation’s Baltimore Middle School Lacrosse League is expanding this year from six to 10 teams and the commissioner wants 30 teams competing. It’s a jump from just a few years ago when Bealefeld began the project mentoring a single team at Calverton Middle School.

For more on the program:

All the teams in the league come from economically depressed areas of the city, and it’s a way of expanding the reach of a sport that can be viewed as elitist. For the police, the partnership is way of getting cops into the communities they serve and, as Bealefeld said, “Give our young men role models.”

But the commissioner has another goal in mind – “grow the next generation of lacrosse players so we have a formidable force in the region.”

Organizers timed Saturday’s event to coincide with the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic, featuring an afternoon of lacrosse [updates from The Sun's sports staff] with Georgetown, Syracuse, Johns Hopkins and UMBC, among others. It was all lacrosse all the time, and Bealefeld didn’t disappoint with his intimate knowledge of the sport. He played mid-fielder in high school from 1976 to 1980 and in community college, giving up only after he broke his collar bone on the field and took his police academy entrance exam wearing a neck brace.

He quizzed the teens on what teams he thought would win this year’s championship – for the record, the commissioner doesn’t think it will be Hopkins – and he singled out young man who is an example of what the day was all about.

William Winer started playing in the lacrosse league while at Bluford Drew Jemison Academy in East Baltimore. He credits the discipline – kids can’t play if they’re grades are poor, they get into trouble or show bad attitude – with getting into Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, regarded as one of the city’s better high schools.

There, at the age of 14, he’s already made the varsity lacrosse team and is studying architecture and culinary arts. Lacrosse, Winer said, “gave me a chance to do something different.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: South Baltimore, Top brass
        

Comments

Bealefelon is not a friend to these Black male youths, and neither are you, Hermann. Your evil is going to catch up with the all of you.

What are you doing for the black youth in the city Bob? Or, do you just dislike white folks?

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.



Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.
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