Often times one must “go through hoops” to complete a large task, and School Resource Officer Daniel Herrera did just that. As a former public school teacher, he knew just what to do to mentor and inspire the students at the Henry D. Perry Education Center.
Herrera’s idea came to him during his first year in his new position as a Resource Officer at the Miramar school. This particular school happens to be an alternative school where students come to recover credits, and/or because of disciplinary issues at their home school. Knowing that the student body is not generally fans of law enforcement, sparked the determined officer to get to know the students on a personal level despite their beliefs.
“Soon, the students and I developed a very good rapport. They got to know me, as we’d talk sports, tattoos, music, they started trusting me with personal issues. They realized I was not, as they say, ‘like every other cop’,” explained Herrera. “Given the fact that the school’s only athletic team is its high school basketball team, and that the school allows the whole student body to watch games played during the school day, I thought basketball would be a great tool to show there were many police officers like me, whom the students would get along with.”
The first “Ballin’ for Unity” tournament was a slam dunk, so it was only natural for Herrera to put together another this year. The second annual game was recently played before the holidays. Although the Miramar Police Department won 57-54, both students and officers had a great time while developing a positive relationship.
The basketball game allowed students to see officers out of uniform as “regular people” that they can engage, ask questions, and learn from. This type of approach offered a new perspective and a worthwhile experience and has become an anticipated sporting event at the school.
“Like last year, it’s been my favorite work day of the year. Not only were both games, competitive and close (Miramar Police won both by the way). But even more enjoyable was at the end of both games, when the players and police officers have lunch together. We talk about the game, we talk about life, we laugh, and at the end of the day, my mission is accomplished,” added Herrera.