Alice DeCook was sweating by the time she was taken to jail Saturday morning. Her crime: loss of flag, with a $5 bail bond.
DeCook, along with about 40 other citizens, ran around Vermillion with law enforcement at their heels. It was the second annual I Ran from the Cops 5K benefit run.
DeCook, a junior at the University of South Dakota, had a lighthearted view of the event compared to other citizens who have been chased by the authorities.
“It’s pretty funny, cops chasing you down,” she said.
Citizens such as DeCook wore orange shirts and were equipped with a flag. Law enforcement officers, who wore blue, gave the citizens a short head start and “chased” them down. If a cop pulled an orange-shirter’s flag before reaching the finish line, the civilian was taken to a jail cell set up in Prentis Park.
In a real-life situation, DeCook may not have faired so well. She lost her flag not long after the start.
“She was really athletic, OK?” DeCook joked of a law enforcement runner who snatched her flag during the race.
The event was put on by the Vermillion Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a non-profit organization composed of area law enforcement officers, said Deputy Sheriff David Kyte.
Money raised by the FOP stays local with the donation going to area causes, but Kyte said they have also donated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial, which commemorates officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Over the past year, Kyte said the organization has raised roughly $2,000.
Aside from dollar signs, the run doesn’t only focus on raising funds.
“We do this to help the community, but it also shows the citizens and the community that we’re not just cops, we’re also human,” Kyte said.
Deanna Goeman, a trooper with the South Dakota Highway Patrol, ran as a blue-shirter. In all fun and games, she snatched six or seven flags, DeCook’s included.
Events like this give civilians a chance to step back and look at the bigger picture, Goeman said.
“It puts a good perspective on law enforcement opposed to the perspective everyone has, especially with the Ferguson incident and other things that have happened recently,” Goeman said. “It shows the better side of law enforcement that most people don’t see or choose not to see.”
Kyte said the run presents a chance for citizens to see officials out of their uniform and in a fun environment.
“We’re always the bad guys. A lot of the time we deal with people, something bad happened to them or they did something wrong,” Kyte said. “This gives us an opportunity for them to see us in a different light.”
As some would say is true cop fashion, runners of both colors enjoyed donuts and snacks together after the run, connecting the community on a more personal level.
(Police Officer Jon Cole (right) takes Deputy States Attorney Phil Terwilliger (left) to “jail,” after his flag was taken during the second annual I Ran from the Cops 5K, which started in Prentis Park at 9 a.m. Emily Niebrugge | The Volante)