Annual Battle of the Badges goes down at the South End Community Center

Hampden County

C3 community policing has become an important part of keeping Springfield safe.

Members of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and the Springfield police teamed up with students from South End Middle School for the annual battle of the badges volleyball game Friday night. 

Trooper Mike Cutone and Springfield police sergeant John Zollo helped develop C3 policing 10 years ago, encouraging its spread from the North end to multiple parts of the city. 

“Basically a trooper and a deputy chief realizing  ‘hey we want some innovation, how to engage with the local population and build the trust. Build these C3 meetings,’ and from there it took off,” Cutone told 22News. 

Seeing kids and cops come together like this has become a regular occurrence, thanks to C3 policing. 

Zollo added, “We’ve definitely evolved the c3 program we get more involved with the youth, like today community engagement with the youth. It’s fantastic. See some of these kids- ‘hey what team do you want to be on?’ And when we say ‘the police,’ everybody jumped up they wanted to be on our team”

The officers said, after a decade of C3 policing, as these kids grew older, some were inspired to pursue careers in military service and law enforcement. 

“We have a student trooper program. each C3 team picks a student from their community and sends them to the mass state police academy for a week. So we’ve seen some of these kids grow. One of them actually joined the united states marine corps,” officer Julio Toleeo told 22News. 

The officers said it’s the collaboration of state troopers, police, and the citizens of Springfield that makes the C3 program successful.

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