Walnut Creek Lets Police Games Begin

Another story about the persons, officers and incidents connected to the Walnut Creek Police 

This one will be about parental abduction, kidnapping and possible murder of witnesses.
Source (sfgate.com) : more >>

Walnut Creek Lets Police Games Begin


 Published 
1998-06-19 04:00:00 PDT Contra Costa County -- So, this cop walks into a doughnut shop and . . .
Well, fill in the punch line yourself. Those jokes have become as stale as a 3-day-old cruller. Police officers have heard them all. Cracks about their laziness, their predilection for fried and frosted dough, their bellies spilling over their holsters. Next to lawyer jokes, those quips are staples among hack comics. Truth is, though, most law enforcement officers are fit. They have to be. Starting Sunday and continuing through next Saturday, the public can judge for itself, when Contra Costa and the Tri-Valley host the 30th California Summer Police Games. Open to any law enforcement or fire officer, the event billed as an alternative Olympics is expected to draw more than 5,000 participants competing in 50 events that test athletic ability and specific job skills.
Concord is the host city, but events will take place at venues as far west as Contra Costa College in San Pablo, as far south as Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton and as far east as Deer Valley High in Antioch. With as many as 25,000 visitors expected, including the athletes, it should mean big crowds at many of the events -- and long lines at the doughnut shops.
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with doughnuts," said Neil Stratton, a retired Walnut Creek police captain who is the director of the games, which are hosted by Contra Costa. "Doughnuts are good, although they may not be good for you. I know a lot of officers who like doughnuts. But we also have some world-class athletes who do a lot more than eat doughnuts."
Those officers will compete in a variety of events, including swimming, track and field, tug-of-war, water-skiing, trap shooting and hard-tip darts. One of the more intriguing competitions is the "Toughest Cop Alive," which involves eight events in a single day: a 5K run, 100-yard dash, 100-yard swim, the shot put, bench press, upper body rope climb, pull-ups and an obstacle course.
There also is a police dog competition, testing obedience and agility, and an obstacle course race, in which Concord's two canine cops, Rico and Mikey, will compete.
There also is a special narcotics sniffing division for the dogs. That division will be closed to the public, according to Concord police officer Dan Moore, who is organizing the canine events. All other events, featuring officers on two or four legs, are free.
"It's the only (competition) I know of where the athletes pay and the spectators get in free," Stratton says.
It has been that way since 1967 when Duke Nyhus, the deputy chief of the San Diego Police Department, organized the first California Police Games in Long Beach to benefit youth and anti-drug programs. It began with 15 sports and 500 competitors and has grown steadily since. Now it is the second largest event for police and fire officials in the world, behind only the biannual World Games.
The Police Games serves as more than just a physical outlet, according to Stratton. It's a way to network.
"Before I retired, I had all sorts of contact all over the state with people I met through the Games," Stratton says. "It makes a big difference when you're working on a case and you have to call another department and you deal with somebody you've competed against. You get more cooperation. You're not just another cop wanting a favor. I've traveled all over the world with members of the LAPD, for instance."
Cops may be collegial outside of the competition but, once the games begin, it's fierce. Most police officers train for the Games year- round. For the 56-year-old Stratton, a master's swimmer, retirement means he doesn't have to cram in his workouts between police shifts.
"I no longer have to get to the pool at 5:30 (a.m.) to swim," he said. "I can concentrate on it more."
Stratton won five gold medals in his age group at last year's Police Games in Fresno and was part of a 50-meter breaststroke relay team that won the world title. Though he's had considerable success, Stratton quickly adds, "I'm no professional or anything."
True, but others who will compete have been elite athletes or even professionals. Former Olympic shot putter John Powell, for instance, formerly worked for the San Jose Police Department after his competitive days were over, and he dominated the Police Games for a several years.
"Just in swimming alone," Stratton says, "we have some guys who swam in the NCAAs last year. We've had people who, given the choice between pro sports and a more secure career in law enforcement, have chosen public service. But they still get to compete."

POLICE GAMES

The California Police Games will begin Sunday throughout Contra Costa County. All competitons are free. Here is a list for selected sports. For a complete list, call the Contra Costa Police Athletic Association at (925) 827-1998.
-- Boxing: Richmond Auditorium and Concord Pavilion, 6:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday.
-- Road Race: St. Mary's College, Sunday, 7 a.m.
-- Soccer: Central Park, San Ramon, Sunday-Friday, 8 a.m.
-- Softball (men's senior): Willow Pass Park, Concord, Thursday-Saturday, 8 a.m.
-- Toughest Cop Alive: Alhambra High School, Monday-Wednesday, 7 a.m.
-- Track and Field: Contra Costa College, Thursday-Saturday, 7 a.m.
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