Street hockey connects cops, Janesville neighborhood kids

Officers play 3-v-3 with neighborhood kids
Street hockey connects cops, Janesville neighborhood kids
The Janesville Police Department

It’s not every day that a police officer gets to play hockey on a shift, but that’s exactly what three Janesville officers were able to do.

Officers Jeremy Wiley and Derek Mussey and Sgt. Jimmy Holford responded to a complaint about kids playing hockey in the street Monday afternoon near South Main Street and Oakland Avenue. Instead of handcuffs, the officers brought their own hockey sticks.

“I think if we would have just told them to move and went on with our day, there’s probably a good chance they would have just gone back as soon as we left,” Holford said. “So I think now that we actually kind of talked to them and built a relationship, maybe they’ll actually even listen to us a little bit better.”

The officers blocked off the street with their cars and played with the kids for about 30 minutes.

“They were good,” Wiley said. “They were better, I think, than any of us thought was going to be down there, especially the goalie. The goalie was making some saves that we were all like, ‘Wow. This kid’s good.'”

Chris Craddick lives across the street from where the officers were playing with the kids. He said watching them brought back memories.

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood my whole life, and us growing up as kids, we always played street football right in front of our house,” Craddick said.

He said he’d had concerns about the kids playing in the street before, so he wasn’t surprised to see the police, but he didn’t expect them to join in.

“It was nice to see them take the effort,” Craddick said. “Explain to the kids, you know, ‘Hey, this isn’t probably the safest place to play,’ but taking their time out to also get involved and show them the police do have a lighter side.”

Street hockey connects cops, Janesville neighborhood kids

Wiley said he and the officers that played against the kids are on the police department’s local hockey team.

“I don’t think we were playing all out, but they start playing competitive, so we had to step up and play to their level too,” he said.

Holford said the game was tied for a while, but the officers ended up winning 5-3.

After the game, the officers showed the kids a better place to play to keep them out of the road.

“There’s plenty of room for them right across the street to play in a parking lot where there’s not moving traffic,” Holford said.

Neighbors took videos of the game and posted them to Facebook , and some of the clips have been viewed more than a million times.

“It’s not always about arresting people and doing traffic stops,” Wiley said. “It’s about interacting with the community, the kids, giving them something to look forward and maybe one day some of them will want to be a police officer based off this experience.”