Cops and Bobbers (could there be a more perfect title?) brings police and kids together to fish

Michael Fuentes and his mentor, LaPorte City Police Officer Victor Splix.

Cohen Heinz and his mentor, Officer Matt Drangmeister.

Lunch is served!

High 5’s between participants and mentors.

WNLP photos and story by Bob Wellinski

Under overcast skies, nine LaPorte City Police officers paired up with nine LaPorte County youths to get a little Saturday morning fishing in on July 14, 2018. Chief Tom Owens saw an opportunity to snag the interest of youths through a mentoring program called Cops and Bobbers.

The event took place at a local private pond owned by Scott Johnson. The young people, ranging in age from 8 to 17, were each given a fishing rod, tackle and tackle box (from the City of LaPorte and the LaPorte City Police Dept.) and then, after a few basic fishing instructions, spent the morning fishing with their police mentors.

Owens said the first-time event went “extremely well. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Overcast is always better for fishing and everybody is having a fantastic time.”

Although it was a catch-and-release adventure, each youth kept tally of the number of fish, size of each fish and combined total of inches they caught. Trophies were handed out for total number of fish, the most combined total of inches and largest fish, which included an 18 1/2-inch bass and an 11 1/2-inch bluegill.

Only one mishap occurred during the event: A participant’s fishing pole broke while reeling in a “huge” fish.

Chief Owen said it was a learning experience for the kids, including the realization that some fish get away. “I’m not into participation trophies,” he said. “You need to earn what you get. If you want to earn something, do your best. Practice, get better, and then try at it again.”

Owens credited his officers and the community for the success of the event and hopes to expand it next year. “This demonstrates the quality of officers we have; they donated their time to be out here at 6 a.m.”

Serving as judges were: Judge Thomas Alevizos and Magistrate Jonathan Forker; LaPorte City Council members Roger Galloway and Miles Fettinger; Kurt Lawson of LaPorte High School Fishing Club; and LaPorte Mayor Mark Krentz.

LaPorte American Legion and Rotary Club supplied and cooked lunch that included hamburgers, hot dogs and chips. Sauers Buick GMC helped pick up the cost of food. Dan and Julie Reed provided trophies and KarahTess Clothing and Lettering provided T-shirts.

“This has been a community-involved event,” Owens said. “We have fantastic people in our community. We truly do.”

As for the youngsters, Owens said, “Hopefully they’ll take advantage of this and keep going. Go out and fish. Enjoy it.”

Judging from the reaction of participant Cohen Heinz, there’s no doubt that the youths took away a new love of fishing as well as an interest in law enforcement. Heinz, who has had some fishing experience, caught 11 fish.

“I thought it was great. Not just for me, but all the kids here today,” Heinz said. “Also, for the police officers to meet the kids. Collaborating is such a good thing today because not many kids get to do this. I think this is a great program and they should continue doing this.”

2 Responses to “Cops and Bobbers (could there be a more perfect title?) brings police and kids together to fish”

  1. Mike

    Jul 20. 2018

    Such a great idea and a fantastic program! Kudos to the La Porte Police for coordinating this program and to everyone that supported this venture!

    Reply to this comment
  2. OntheGo

    Jul 31. 2018

    Wow, that is wonderful! I knew nothing about this outing. I hope it continues and gets even bigger! Thanks Scotty for allowing this event to happen at your place!

    Reply to this comment

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