Tru Styles, a 13-year-old from the North Side, said lots of the activities at the inaugural USSIE Summer Games were fun, as was meeting and competing in a number of games with Pittsburgh police officers. But one occurrence stood out—splashing Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor into the dunk tank.
“It’s a great way for people to get together. Sometimes police are made out to be bad characters when they can actually be helpful to society,” Styles told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “And yeah, I got to dunk the Councilman—Now that was fun.”
And that was the idea, said Candi Castleberry-Singleton at the June 24 event at Highmark Stadium on the South Side. It grew out of conversations among community members following the killing of five police officers in Dallas last year.
“This was conceived by some young people after the shootings. In a mentoring group I’m part of, this became a topic and they wanted to do something about it,” she said. “Aerion Abney (program officer of the Poise Foundation) suggested we do something like a game where police and the community could connect and build relationships and this is the outcome of that conversation.”
The games—which included three-legged races, tug of war, soccer, sack races, water-balloon tosses and dodgeball—brought together community members and officers from each of Pittsburgh’s six police zones who teamed up to compete against the others, and to have fun.