Wearing a baseball T-shirt, a worn cap and sunglasses, Brunswick Police Officer Kevin Linehan blended in perfectly with the crowd Wednesday evening outside Harry Grove Stadium.

Then again, the point of Wednesday’s operation was for Linehan and his fellow officers to shed their uniforms in favor of plain clothes and spend quality time interacting with six of Brunswick’s younger residents. Encouraged by the success of the department’s second Cops & Canoes event — which partnered local kids up with off-duty Brunswick police officers for a two-hour trek down the Potomac River just last month — Brunswick Police Chief Milt Frech decided to launch a second youth outreach event in partnership with the Frederick Keys baseball team.

Much like the canoeing trip, the goal of Wednesday’s outing was to foster positive relationships between city youth and the officers who work in the community, Linehan said.

“It just lets the kids see us in a different light. A lot of time when they see us we’re in uniform and they see us as these authority figures, but when they get out of uniform and they get to see us interacting with them like regular people, it kind of opens up their eyes to, ‘Hey, these are just regular people who just, in turn, during their day jobs, are there to protect us,’” the officer said.

As Brunswick’s designated school resource officer, Linehan was tasked with organizing both this year’s canoe trip and Wednesday’s fun night, coordinating between Frederick County Public Schools employees at Brunswick Middle and Elementary schools as well as the Keys to make sure the night was another success.

While the school officials and the baseball team were happy to work with the department, at least one of the youth who made it out to the game Wednesday admitted that she had her reservations going in.

“I didn’t really want to go, but my mom didn’t give me much of a choice,” 12-year-old Brunswick Middle School student Kaylyn Keller said with a laugh as Linehan and the rest of the group prepared to enter the stadium.

When one of her friends had to back out unexpectedly about two weeks ago, Kaylyn’s parents learned about the event and signed her up instead, she said. Her initial misgivings aside, Kaylyn did admit she was having fun by the time the group arrived at the stadium, having already stopped to eat at Cicis Pizza.

“I guess it’s been fun, just, like, eating and sitting in the car listening to music with them,” Kaylyn said, smiling as she recalled how she and Cpl. Jacki Druktenis had listened to ’90s songs on the drive, including one by the famous rapper Biggie Smalls.

“Hey, she picked it!” the corporal said with a smile as Kaylyn broke down laughing.

Watching over the group as Linehan handed out tickets in front of the stadium entrance, Frech said that easy laughter was proof enough that the department’s efforts were paying off.

“We want to break down them barriers that we sometimes see between us and them,” Frech said. “And {span}if they get something out of it? Something positive? Then we’re all for that as well.”

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Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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