Sarasota deputies get smackdown in 'EPIC' dodgeball match

- The Sarasota Sheriff's Department got into a little friendly dodgeball match with middle school students that students say had an "EPIC" ending.

The video posted on the sheriff's department's Facebook page shows the officers and students from Laurel-Nokomis and Venice Middle Schools first in a mad dash for the dodgeballs then firing at each other.

Eventually, one student deflected a ball that then went careening into the person filming the dodgeball game and the camera went down.

Each year the Sheriff's Athletic League holds activities for kids. A 10-week fishing pilot program led them to a dodgeball face-off. For deputies, it was about interacting and getting to know the kids.

"We break down any communication or any perception issues of the youth, and law enforcement in general, as well as giving them the skill to go out on their own," said Captain John Jernigan.

In the end, deputies also take away lessons from the children.

"Often times, we find that these kids have taught us something, as well," Captain Jernigan said.

Deputies said they notice a big change in the children they meet at these events.

"Their communication skills are better and, in a lot of cases, their grades are better, not that they are poor students or anything, but just knowing that, if there is somebody, another person that is in your life, especially a law enforcement officer who is there for you, that can give you a little boost," said Deputy Hill.

Getting back to the business of determining who won the game, Deputy Hill said, "I think it was a tie," adding, "some of those kids have arms and they can unload that ball, and especially when it hits a bald head, it can hurt."

But it's pretty clear from the video who did not win this match: the camera.

You can learn more about the Sheriff Athletic League by visiting www.SarasotaSAL.org.

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