The Inaugural Safe at Home Game was played last Saturday and was a huge success! It was the final activity of a month long series of events that were designed to build rapport between Atlanta’s inner city youth and cops. The final score was L.E.A.D. Ambassadors 10, Atlanta Police Department 7. The Ambassadors won the game! However, I think everyone who participated would agree that both groups won the series because Safe at Home was a game changer for them and the communities in which they live and work.

Working with APIVEO and the Atlanta Police Foundation to create the Safe at Home program has been one of the best decisions that we’ve made as an organization. Our work together created opportunities for the Ambassadors and the police officers to interact on a level playing field. As a result, police officers saw the Ambassadors as potential leaders, with purpose, and hope for a better future.

They were all very polite and genial. I could sense that they had hope and an idea that they are going somewhere in life. The hopelessness and its collateral effects that I normally see in kids from their neighborhoods doesn’t operate in them. ~Lieutenant Jim Hodges

C.J. Stewart exchanging game jerseys with Lt. Hodges of the Atlanta Police Department. Photo credit Jim Stacey.

Additionally, because L.E.A.D. Ambassadors effectively connected with police, they learned to see the officers’ human side.

I learned that everyone is human and has different emotions. The police started to get a little frustrated when they made errors and I realized that we do the same thing on our own team. So no one should get mad at someone else because they didn’t do correctly on the field or at the plate. We should all keep our heads high and continue to have a great game. ~ L.E.A.D. Ambassador Cameron Giles

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Cameron Giles (B.E. Mays High School, Atlanta Public Schools) and Lt. Jim Hodges. Photo credit Jeff McPhail.

I also came to realize a few things from my own experience over the last month. For starters, we don’t take time to get to know our police officers. We tend to put more effort into learning about celebrities and their lives, than we put into getting to know those whose job it is to protect us.

Another realization hit me, as I participated in a police ride in Zone 3 – the area around Atlanta Braves Turner Field. Dispatch alerted us that several shots were being fired in a neighborhood nearby. As a civilian, my instinct was to get as far away from gunfire as possible, while the officers went into it. This made me think about what would happen without a police presence in our neighborhoods. I urge you to think about the chaos that would ensue in that scenario.

It also occurred to me later, while speaking with our police officers’ wives during the first two innings of the game on Saturday that the officers have families, same as me, only I don’t put my life in danger like that on a daily basis.

I can honestly say all of this has been humbling. I’d also like to think that I represented my community well, and that the time I spent with the officers on the ride-along helped raise awareness of the work we are doing through L.E.A.D. and with our Ambassadors.

Photo credit Jim Stacey.

The relationship between APIVEO, Atlanta Police Foundation and L.E.A.D. is stronger now because of our work together on Safe at Home, and that is a big win for all three organizations, especially our Ambassadors, police officers, families of both groups, and Atlanta’s inner city communities. Together our voices will be heard as we develop Atlanta’s next generation of leaders. You can help….ask us how.