Two Cow­boys learn about Grand Prairie po­lice pro­grams

Star-Telegram - - Front Page - BY CLARENCE E. HILL JR. chill@star-tele­gram.com

The Dal­las Cow­boys have joined the so­cial jus­tice move­ment as a part of the NFL play­ers coali­tion.

De­fen­sive tackle Ty­rone Craw­ford and corner­back By­ron Jones spent Tues­day with the Grand Prairie Po­lice Depart­ment, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a ride-along, talk­ing to kids at a park, see­ing the youth box­ing pro­gram and talk­ing face to face with of­fi­cers about real life is­sues and per­cep­tions.

“We were very for­tu­nate to have mem­bers of the Dal­las Cow­boys or­ga­ni­za­tion visit our city yes­ter­day to learn more about our Com­mu­nity Polic­ing ini­tia­tives, par­tic­u­larly in­volv­ing our youth,” Grand Prairie Po­lice Chief Steve Dye said in a state­ment.

“The play­ers had re­quested a low-key op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with our po­lice of­fi­cers and com­mu­nity mem­bers to bet­ter un­der­stand our com­mu­nity en­gage­ment ef­forts. We ap­pre­ci­ate the play­ers tak­ing such a gen­uine in­ter­est in their com­mu­nity and for their in­ter­ac­tion with our po­lice of­fi­cers and youth to­ward en­hanced un­der­stand­ing and trust-build­ing through the for­ma­tion of re­la­tion­ships.”

The play­ers re­quested a low-key ap­proach to Tues­day’s en­gage­ment be­cause

it’s all part of a big­ger pro­gram the Cow­boys are for­mu­lat­ing with the help of vice pres­i­dent Char­lotte Jones An­der­son.

Run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott, quar­ter­back Dak Prescott, linebacker Sean Lee and de­fen­sive end DeMar­cus Lawrence were but a few in­volved along with Jones and Craw­ford.

It presents a dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tive than the one seem­ingly as­sumed about play­ers on the Cow­boys re­gard­ing the so­cial jus­tice move­ment be­cause of their un­will­ing­ness to cross owner Jerry Jones’ ban against kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them.

Jones has long said he would sup­port any­thing the play­ers wanted to do in the com­mu­nity to tackle the is­sues.

“We’ve been want­ing to speak out for a long time but you have to do it the right way,” Craw­ford said. “When you’re plan­ning some­thing, you have to plan and ex­e­cute the right way, es­pe­cially when it’s some­thing so big ... and we want it to be big and we want it to reach a lot of peo­ple. It’s some­thing you have to plan out and you don’t drop it un­til it’s right.”

Craw­ford said more is com­ing in the Cow­boys’ ef­forts to en­gage with the lo­cal po­lice and the com­mu­nity about the same is­sues that prompted for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick to start his silent protest of po­lice bru­tal­ity and racism dur­ing the an­them in 2016.

Craw­ford said Tues­day’s ex­pe­ri­ence was eye-open­ing on a num­ber of lev­els and it was great to see com­mu­nity polic­ing in ac­tion.

“Yeah, def­i­nitely. A lot of peo­ple we pulled up on in the dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods knew the of­fi­cers and knew about them and knew what they were do­ing and see­ing what they were do­ing on the week­end,” Craw­ford said.

“Those guys are def­i­nitely in­volved in their com­mu­nity. I can speak for Grand Prairie, ‘cause that’s who we were with. But they def­i­nitely were in­volved in their com­mu­nity. A lot of them know each other and it was cool to see that. I didn’t know that was go­ing on. That was awe­some to see.”

The real-life ex­pe­ri­ence did have a few tense mo­ments for Craw­ford.

“It’s dif­fer­ent when you think about a call that is called into a po­lice of­fi­cer. You are think­ing about it. You hear about it. When you are ac­tu­ally in the sit­u­a­tion you have to go. I am like ‘wait, wait, wait. Where are we go­ing? Why do we have to go to stop a fight? I am in the car.’

“It’s more real life when you ac­tu­ally have to go into those sit­u­a­tions . ... You know me, I walk into a restau­rant ner­vous. In that sit­u­a­tion, I was def­i­nitely ner­vous.”

The day be­gan with them stop­ping off at a bas­ket­ball court and talk­ing to a few kids about their neigh­bor­hood and how they felt.

They then wit­nessed a traf­fic stop of a guy with a felony war­rant fol­lowed by a trip to the Grand Prairie Po­lice Youth box­ing gym.

“They bring the youth in from the streets,” Craw­ford said. “This gym was pop­ping. Kids were go­ing. They were grind­ing in there and work­ing hard. Hit­ting the bags. Coaches were coach­ing them up hard.

“Teach­ing them the right things in how to go about life and just re­spon­si­bil­ity. Be­ing ac­count­able to things. They said the right things to those kids. Ob­vi­ously, that hap­pens daily there. It was good to see. It was good to see that.”

They fin­ished with a bond­ing ses­sion with the of­fi­cers about their is­sues and their per­cep­tions.

They ended on com­mon ground.

“We talked about some of the things we grew up think­ing about them and what they are per­ceived as,” Craw­ford said. “And the re­al­ity of how we are all men and women in uni­form. And once we jump out of the uni­form we are all fam­i­lies. We go through the same thing.

“Once we jump out of the uni­form peo­ple want me to be this foot­ball player but I am not. I am a dad. I am a hus­band. That is what I am go­ing to be out­side of it. And that is what I want to come home to.

“You don’t want to be in­jured on the field. You don’t want to have a sea­son-end­ing in­jury or lifeal­ter­ing in­jury, just like they don’t. We just talked. We just chopped it up. It opened my eyes to a lot.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

Cow­boys DT Ty­rone Craw­ford spent a day with the Grand Prairie po­lice depart­ment as part of the team’s in­volve­ment in the so­cial jus­tice move­ment.

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