Student athletes are teaming up with police, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders for tough, afterschool workouts meant to build trust between teens and law enforcement and help everyone get in shape.
The new program called Badges and Barbells was started by Sgt. Andrew McCurdy with the King Co. Sheriff's Office and takes place a few days a week at Evergreen Campus, a collection of three specialized high schools within Highline Public Schools.
"We need to find more opportunities to build friendships when they're not in a crisis," McCurdy said while training about a dozen students in the Evergreen weight room Monday.
The participants, mostly members of the football team, follow a training routine designed by McCurdy. He was an athletic training major in college and worked in a sports injury clinic.
"I don't really talk to cops and stuff, but Andy's a pretty cool dude," said freshman Sione Moimoi while catching his breath after a set of deadlifts. "He's different."
"Right now in our country, police officers are under a lot of scrutiny and I think a lot of that tension comes from our difficulty building relationships with the people we're working with," said McCurdy. He is also chief of the Covington Police Department under a contract between the sheriff's office and the city.
McCurdy was joined Monday by Capt. Theodore Boe, also with the sheriff's office. Paramedics, firefighters, and corrections officers have also worked out with the teens since the program started in January.
McCurdy is raising funds to open a similar gym at a middle school in Covington.
"Eventually I would love for this program to take off and be replicated wherever they have an interest or wherever they have people that will support it," he said.