LAGRANGE, Ga. – Local law enforcement officers are serving beyond their badges. LaGrange Police officers, Troup County deputies, and firefighters are using their authority to help kids with special needs in the Chattahoochee Valley.
LaGrange senior patrol officer Garrett Pressley reflects on his first year coaching a county softball team comprised of athletes with special needs.
“As soon as they see you, they want to come and give you a high five or hug,” Pressley said. “Seeing how happy they are is a good way to relieve ourselves from the stress of what we do everyday here at the police department.”
Pressley was born with a birth defect, leaving him without his left ear. But he hasn’t let that hurdle stop him from making a difference. He, along with a couple of other law enforcement officers, spent a weekend at the Georgia Special Olympics in Gainesville. Sgt. Marshall McCoy has a son with Down’s Syndrome on the team. He says the personal connection allows him to invest more into the well-being of the players.
‘We didn’t get quite as far as we wanted to, but the kids were smiling and had a good time,” Sgt. McCoy said. “For them, they won first place and I won first place. [My son] really enjoys it. He loves to play. He loves being around the other kids. These kids have the same desires and smiles, the same drive. They’re very competitive.”
Alma Burgos’s 12-year-old son Andrew has autism and plays on the team. She says having police officers coach her son really opens her eyes in a positive light.
“I guess a lot of people see police and want to look away,” Burgos said. “But to them, now that the coaches are police officers, this is the first time he sees them in uniform.”
For Burgos, winning isn’t everything. But sometimes, building bonds with friends and mentors means the same as hitting a home run.
“There’s a lot that we take for granted as far as communication. We feel like we just speak to communicate and they use so many other methods.”