MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The 4th Annual Hoops for Jesus Battle of the Badges took place Thursday at the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. The event featured a basketball game between members of the Meridian Police Department and the Meridian Fire Department.
Meridian Chief of Police, Benny Dubose, was confident in his department’s ability to pull off the win.
“Hoop for Jesus Battle of the Badges – we look forward to it every year,” Chief Dubose said. “Fire Department versus Police Department – we do a lot of smack talking but that’s all it is. You know, in the end we’re still brothers and sisters working together, but we’re going to beat them so it’s no big deal.”
Although MPD won last year’s bout, MFD had won the two prior matchups and team members were confident in their ability to bounce back.
“Fire department is going to take them down again,” said Station Three Captain, Justin Kentfield. “We got some good guys and they got some talent so we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Members from both teams looked forward to the opportunity for interdepartmental recreation.
“The only time we really get to see each other is when we’re on the job so it’s fun to kinda get together off the job and hang out, do something for the community,” Kentfield added.
Proceeds from the Battle of the Badges – as well as the Hoops for Jesus – benefit graduating seniors from Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.
“It’s good to see them come together in a competitive, friendly way and represent our city and do this for our young people because it is for scholarship,” said the church’s pastor, Rev. A.D. Lewis.
Open to the community, the event provided eventgoers an opportunity to see the lighter side of local fire and policemen. Senior Patrol Officer and last year’s MVP, Ronald Turner Jr., enjoys how the game gives the community a chance to see their first responders outside of the uniform.
“I just want the community to know that we’re actually here for them,” Turner said. “You know, just to let those guys – let everybody know that we’re human. We like to have a good time and we like to have fun at the end of the day.”
The Meridian Police Department was able to even the series record 2-2 with a 39 to 26 win over the Fire Department Thursday.