Photo of officer playing football with kids gains attention

Local News

VILLA GROVE, Ill. (WCIA) — A police officer is getting praise for taking time to play football with some kids in town. Someone passing by snapped a picture and shared it on Facebook. Since then, lots of people have commented, saying how happy they are to see an officer doing this.

We have a chance to re-create the moment today.

“I thought I’d stop and see if they needed even teams, if I could join in, and they were all excited, so I figured I’d stay and play for a while,” explained Villa Grove officer Derek Rasmussen. It was a gesture that didn’t seem like much to him at the time: a game of football.

“I got excited and starting throwing the ball around, and said I’ll just quarterback for both sides,” he explained. But once a picture was uploaded to Facebook, it wasn’t long before comments started flooding in.

“I got a text message, and then I got another text message, and then my phone just started blowing up,” explained Chief Bob Rea. He said it filled him with pride. “This is the kindof stuff I like to see out of them. This is the kindof stuff that the community likes to see.”

“The whole town was supportive of it. It was nice; I really didn’t expect the attention. I’m not an attention person, but it was nice to see so much support from the community,” Rasmussen explained. The moment was special, not just because it was fun, but because it was a chance for the kids in the community to see that police are people too – and some of them just happen to be kids at heart.

“I talked to him about it, and he goes, ‘I didn’t do this to draw attention to myself. I was having more fun than they were,’ which is probably true actually,” Rea said. “I told these guys when I first hired them, I said we’re gonna be visible, we’re gonna be out in the community. People should see that car. We need to be visible, and Derek’s taking that to heart.”

Rasmussen is a new officer. He just finished with the Police Training Institute. He grew up in Villa Grove, and told WCIA he and his friends used to play football after school just like these kids.

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