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Local law enforcement hosts Bags with Badges tourney

Brainerd lakes area public safety officials hosted a cornhole tournament Friday, Aug. 12, to continue their effort to engage with community members.

A kid and a woman looking at each other
Beau Fitch(left) and Brainerd Firefighter Katie Grimsby bond as she teaches him how to play corn hole Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Northern Pacific Center.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Every good plan comes with a backup, and the Friday, Aug. 12, Bags with Badges event was no different.

With rain coming down in droves in the morning and early afternoon, the kids hoping to play cornhole — a game usually played outdoors — with public safety officials were happy to find refuge in a dry Northern Pacific Center.

Brainerd Deputy Police Chief John Davis said the police department is always looking for ways to engage with the community they work to serve.

“It's an outreach program that the Brainerd Police Department, along with other local law enforcement agencies, are taking part in the first-time event,” Davis said.

When looking to engage with the Brainerd lakes area, the Brainerd Police Department often partners with other local law enforcement agencies, Davis said. Multiple agencies, such as fire departments, emergency medical services personnel and other community services in the area, joined in on the fun.

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Davis said ever since the department hosted a fishing tournament last year, it has looked for other officers and employees with hobbies with the idea to turn those personal hobbies and skills into community engagement.

“How this one came about was one of our Brainerd officers, Officer Jordan Host, one of his hobbies is he's a bag toss cornhole enthusiast,” Davis said. “Not only does he play in tournaments but in his off time, he also coordinates tournaments.”

Man standing and explaining the game
Brainerd officer Jordan Host explains the rules of corn hole Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Northern Pacific Center.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Host said he always loved to play sports in high school and college.

“I would say I kind of just fell in love with bags during COVID, as most people that kind of got into it did,” Host said. “It's something easy that you can do at home and you don't need many people to play or practice at all.”

Davis said the focus on community engagement is to reach a diverse group of local youths and give them a day to be engaged with law enforcement in a fun, safe activity.

Two girls throwing bean bags
Briella Tougas(left) and her sister, Alexis Tougas practice throwing bags before the tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Northern Pacific Center.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Briella Tougas, 11, said she competed in the tournament to get more practice, as her dad plays and she wanted to show him how she has improved at playing the game. And for 8-year-old Calvin Traxler, he was excited to be driven to the tournament in the back of a squad car.

Back from competing at the American Cornhole Organization's World Championships of Cornhole 17 in Branson, Missouri, Host said he was happy to bring everyone together to enjoy the game he now loves.

Host did his best to keep track of all the 12 and under players as the organizer and runner of the tournament at the Northern Pacific Center.

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“Another thing we're doing is Officer Elizabeth Gleason used to be a Central Lakes College basketball player,” Davis said. “So same thing, we're going to utilize that skill and in October, she's working with Central Lakes College and our other law enforcement partners in the area, and we're hosting a law enforcement youth basketball camp.”

The event was sponsored by the Initiative Foundation, Sourcewell and the Region Five Development Commission. The Northern Pacific Center also donated its space and manpower to host the tournament.

“The (American Cornhole League), the saying they coined was, ‘Anyone can play, anyone can win,’” Host said. “And I think that's the coolest thing about it is, it's really true. Whether you're 5 years old or 77 years old, whatever you have going on, you can play and you can still beat anyone on any given day. You know, simple game, just put the bag in the hole.”

To find out more information about the youth basketball camp, visit the Brainerd Police Department Facebook page or call 218-838-7511. Participants must be registered by Sept. 1.

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TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Related Topics: BRAINERDSUMMER FUN
Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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