Ready, Aim, Splash
Water splashes at the corner of the Scramble Light as an officer from the University Police Department submerges into a dunking tank. Students line up cash in hand, paying $1 for three balls and the chance to Dunk-A-Cop.
Dunk-A-Cop allows students to send officers plunging into water, while raising money for Special Olympics Indiana.
During this second annual Ball State event, UPD raised $800 for the cause, compared to the $740 raised last year.
The chairman of Dunk-A-Cop, Cpl. Scott Stafford, said that the event is not only philanthropic but also personal, because it helps form relationships between officers and students.
“We need that as a community and as a university,” Stafford said. “I should be able to walk down the street and say, ‘Hey how you doing’ without people being all uptight about it. That’s our goal, to go out and talk to people and [have them] realize we’re not all there because you messed up.”
Junior accounting major Heath Weber has had Officers Smith and Stephens called to his house due to reports of rowdiness. That is why he chose to dunk the two officers.
Other students dunked whoever they felt looked too dry. Encouraged by other officers, a student chose to dunk Officer Renita de la Garza, whose dry uniform was soon remedied in the tank.
By 11:15 a.m., Officer Terrell Smith had already been dunked about 15 times.
To encourage students to donate and participate, officers joked with specific passers-by, many of whom would return to take their shot.
Weber said the event helped students see officers in a different light. Stafford agreed, saying he hopes students will see them more positively.
“That’s exactly one of the main goals—to feel more like a community and meet everyone we possibly can and make them feel comfortable and make them feel safe,” Stafford said. “If you know me, and you know what we do and how we do things, you’re going to feel a lot safer.”
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In the winter, UPD hosts the Polar Plunge, which also benefits Special Olympics Indiana. At this event, a Ball State fundraiser since 2010, teams jump into freezing-cold water in February.
While other schools in Indiana do events like Polar Plunge, Stafford said Ball State was the only school that he knew of to participate in Dunk-A-Cop.
Stafford said the former chief of UPD was a chairman at the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics originally reached out to him to start these fundraisers at the university.
Stafford said he hopes to continue Dunk-A-Cop and the Polar Plunge. As UPD raises more money for Special Olympics Indiana, they also continue to bridge the gap between police officers and students.