Ride-alongs part of Dooley's plan

Effort hopes to 'bridge the gap' between Vols, police

In early August, about a month after two of his players were arrested in the aftermath of a Cumberland Avenue bar brawl, Derek Dooley called Knoxville Police Deputy Chief David Rausch into his office.

Both were there to clear up a "common misconception," Rausch said, something Dooley had heard "war stories" and "horror stories" about before he took the job as Tennessee's new football coach.

"I think there's this belief that law enforcement is out to get the athletes," Rausch said. "And there's a belief among law enforcement that athletes are prima donnas, guarded and allowed to do things outside the rules.

"We agreed we needed to bridge the gap."

The first step took place two weeks later, when five Tennessee freshmen, two of whom were involved in the July 9 brawl, buckled up next to a Knoxville police officer and saw life from the other side of the windshield for four hours on a Friday night.

The ride-alongs, products of Dooley's "Vol for Life" program, are the "first step of what we hope is many more" in hopes of "building the trust between our guys and their guys," Rausch said.

"When we do have these situations that pop up, then we see them and they see us and they can come up to us and say 'You know me. Let me tell you what happened,' " Rausch said. "They have that comfort level instead of running from the scene if something happens.

"The ones that have been through it, they get it."

Two of the five participating freshmen, wide receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Matt Milton, were at the scene of the brawl that left a Knoxville police officer unconscious, sent another patron to the hospital for multiple injuries and resulted in sophomore safety Darren Myles' dismissal from the team.

Milton was detained and questioned by KPD but never charged. Rogers was initially charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Earlier this month, the resisting arrest charge was dropped and the disorderly conduct charge likely will be dropped Oct. 27, when the case is recalled for dismissal if Rogers completes 16 hours of community service.

In the past, Dooley said he's enforced mandatory ride-alongs for players "who might have had some issues with law enforcement." Now, though, he's hoping to have all the members of his current freshman class, along with all his future players, experience a ride-along at least once throughout their careers.

Offensive linemen Zach Fulton and Marques Pair and safety Dontavis Sapp got a head start in August when they joined Milton and Rogers. The program likely will resume at the end of the season, Rausch said.

"When I got here, there was obviously not a great relationship between law enforcement and maybe some of the athletes," Dooley said. "The best way to learn about each other and to learn to respect each other was for us to meet them and get educated on what their job is like."

The ride-along program is nothing new to both Tennessee's players or their college football counterparts.

Florida coach Urban Meyer instituted a similar program in June 2009 shortly after cornerback Janoris Jenkins became the 24th Gator since 2005 to be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. Six Florida players have been arrested since the program's birth.

Butch Davis saw better success with his ride-along program at the University of Miami, a school that went through well-documented scandals and NCAA investigations during the mid-90s.

Under Phillip Fulmer in 2008, Tennessee players Gerald Jones, Ahmad Paige and William Brimfield all had to participate in a police ride-along after respective indiscretions.

"If it's a punishment (and) you have to do it, you're there going through motions," Rausch said. "This is the right way."

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Comments » 46

andy112382#209793 writes:

They should branch out and do ride-alongs in florida, they could spend that time scouting the moves of the gators football players as hey chase them down!

andy112382#209793 writes:

*as they

p66ayers#1376155 writes:

What a bunch of junk. If you are 19 years old and you don't have some sort of idea the difference between right and wrong you need to ride along with police; in the back of the car.

tennesseebee writes:

Well, I say any action is a good action. Can't just sit on your hands and do nothing. Knucklehead athletes who have run-ins with the law hurt the team, the university and recruiting. Knoxville is not that bad of a place. Maybe it is too boring for these kids who come here from the big towns. I salute the chief and Coach Dooley on this.

Couchdummy writes:

I question the value of the ride-along program. Seems to me that the coaches just need to do a better job of culling bad apples during the recruiting process. Sorry, but the privilige of playing for UT should not require a rehab program for bad eggs. If the coaches find that a UT player doesn't know right from wrong, then show him the door.

SpiralBound writes:

I'm a law enforcement officer in Memphis and absoFREAKINlutely behind Coach Dooley and Deputy Chief Rausch! What a great idea. At times, I wish I could show alot of people what a day in the life of a police officer is really like.

Television just doesn't show what can/does happen behind the scenes.

UTGAMER writes:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

SpiralBound writes:

in response to SpiralBound:

I'm a law enforcement officer in Memphis and absoFREAKINlutely behind Coach Dooley and Deputy Chief Rausch! What a great idea. At times, I wish I could show alot of people what a day in the life of a police officer is really like.

Television just doesn't show what can/does happen behind the scenes.

Not only does it shed light on less known facts, but who's to say one of these young men find something about being in public service.

I don't know the statistics, but I'm pretty sure most players won't make it to the NFL, NBA, or MLB. Maybe, just MAYBE, they see something they like about helping a community operate efficiently.

orangecountyvols writes:

This is kinda' about the police. How many of you remember this?

Years ago, policemen would randomly follow a car in and around Knoxville, turn when they turned, stop when they stopped. After a while, they would pull the car over and the driver having done nothing wrong was scared out of his or her wits. They asked the policeman what they did wrong and he said nothing.

He handed them a teddy bear and congratulated them for being a very good and careful driver. He said they could give the teddy bear to a child etc.

It was the "teddy bear" program. Wondered if any of you remembered this.

Go Vols !

RockyTopVolFan writes:

Great idea!

For a few it will be the first time they ever were in the FRONT seat, these few have usually been required to sit in the rear seat, locked in for involuntary transport and without interior door handles.

They will learn that officers are good people with a nigh impossible and highly under- appreciated job and that they mean business! They have to have that serious demeanor to protect themselves and other lawful citizens.
May the officers stay safe and may the players learn how to conduct themselves properly.

VolWoman writes:

Welcome to Knoxville & the Sentinel, Andrew. I look forward to your articles & this was a great start. This sounds like something all schools should do - let them see what happens to people who break the law & let the officers see them as people. Communication never hurts in these situations.

UTSportsFanatic writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

But I can bet it will be a BIG 'turn on' for their parents!

kyvol98 writes:

in response to jimbob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Reading comprehension seems to be a BIG issue here.
This is NOT punishment, but a way of building a relationship between the athlete and the Police.
May just make a 19 yo kid think about the officer and what he saw that night before he does something that is not in his best interest.

hueypilot writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

If that would turn the kid off then it's a good sign that somebody else should have him.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

I think any program which tries to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the players is a good idea. Even if it just keeps one guy from doing something stupid, it's well worth it.

Madkels writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

I question the value of the ride-along program. Seems to me that the coaches just need to do a better job of culling bad apples during the recruiting process. Sorry, but the privilige of playing for UT should not require a rehab program for bad eggs. If the coaches find that a UT player doesn't know right from wrong, then show him the door.

I know why you post under this name now. You fail to see the other side of the equation. Some police officers can be too aggressive and go looking to bust someone. If these officers meet the players and realize they have something in common and aren't all bad apples, then maybe our players will not be followed or busted on trumped up charges. Maybe if a player gets in a simple fight, the police will call Dooley and let him dole out the punishment, saving the kid from an arrest record and negative publicity for our program. This is a win - win.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to hueypilot:

If that would turn the kid off then it's a good sign that somebody else should have him.

Absolutely!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

Sounds like a good, pro-active program to me.
Frankly, I don't see a down side to it.
And to Jimboob, please son, shut up and embarress yourself no further.

OTPVol writes:

Don't let them play with the tasers. I think it's a great idea.

Volchief writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

Article says that Florida has intituted a similar program & it hasn't seemed to hurt their recruiting whatsoever. I know their players still have problems obeying the law, as all of our school's athletes do, but as the article reads Florida & North Carolina have programs that resemble this one and they seem to do just fine recruiting.

Brillovol writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

Maybe, but Mama's and Daddy's are gonna love it.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Never liked them seats with no doorhandles.

utfan36 writes:

maybe stallworth and henry should have went through this program!!

BillyVol writes:

Those of you who don't like the idea, must have ridden in the back seat yourself. In this day and time I would think it would benefit the police and also the players, and put to rest the wild rumors floating.
Vols 27
LSU 24

p66ayers#1376155 writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to BillyVol:

Those of you who don't like the idea, must have ridden in the back seat yourself. In this day and time I would think it would benefit the police and also the players, and put to rest the wild rumors floating.
Vols 27
LSU 24

I think it's a great idea.
And for the record, I've ridden in the back seat of more than one.
Been screen tested and all.

MemphoVol writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks, bankofdad3, I needed that. I'm still laughing!!!

dyerbey#281598 writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

The article said Meyer did the same thing in Florida. It hasn't hurt their recruting. If anything it might ease a Mother's mind knowing that Dooley is trying to help. I think it's a positive for recruiting.

MDiv writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

This is kinda' about the police. How many of you remember this?

Years ago, policemen would randomly follow a car in and around Knoxville, turn when they turned, stop when they stopped. After a while, they would pull the car over and the driver having done nothing wrong was scared out of his or her wits. They asked the policeman what they did wrong and he said nothing.

He handed them a teddy bear and congratulated them for being a very good and careful driver. He said they could give the teddy bear to a child etc.

It was the "teddy bear" program. Wondered if any of you remembered this.

Go Vols !

I was "pulled over" during that campaign. Scared me to death, but my little boy loved the teddy bear and plastic police badge he got out of it.

murrayvol writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't think you want to hear that answer.

murrayvol writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

Really? And what makes you say that?

Volencheaters writes:

Talk about bad luck for the criminals when the passenger is packin more heat than the cop!

murrayvol writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Never liked them seats with no doorhandles.

It only took one of those rides to convince me.

murrayvol writes:

in response to utfan36:

maybe stallworth and henry should have went through this program!!

They did but it was somewhat later in their careers.

BeRealistic writes:

It all comes down to upbringing, if an 18 yr kid doesn't appreciate a 4 yr scolarship & a chance to make millions, to hell with him.

p66ayers#1376155 writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

It all comes down to upbringing, if an 18 yr kid doesn't appreciate a 4 yr scolarship & a chance to make millions, to hell with him.

Thats all i meant and I got called a priest. Go Vols!

BeRealistic writes:

in response to p66ayers#1376155:

Thats all i meant and I got called a priest. Go Vols!

To hell with them.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Funny but could have more serious. I'm a retired cop & don't understand why athletes think they are a level above other students off campus. Let's talk about the LSU game. I think we'll play good until our depth & experience starts showing.

allntl1#565211 writes:

More coddling and special treatment for football players. Is this special treatment offered for the regular citizen or just the special ones. And another thing, why is this cop being called into Dooley's office. If Dooley wants to talk about special privaleges for his boys he should saddle up and ride over to the cop's office.

lahvolman2 writes:

in response to p66ayers#1376155:

What a bunch of junk. If you are 19 years old and you don't have some sort of idea the difference between right and wrong you need to ride along with police; in the back of the car.

you've spent way too much time with Mommy.... 98% of our athletes are African American from rural or inner city and have only been exposed to the wrong side..... get a life.....

BeRealistic writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

you've spent way too much time with Mommy.... 98% of our athletes are African American from rural or inner city and have only been exposed to the wrong side..... get a life.....

You young punk, run with them & you will end up in the back seat. It sounds like you are on the wrong side, try the other side, it might have more milk.

p66ayers#1376155 writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

You young punk, run with them & you will end up in the back seat. It sounds like you are on the wrong side, try the other side, it might have more milk.

Thanks Be Real for taking care of my light work. I'm over at lahvolman 2 moma house hangin and bangin. All this has gotten out of control. Everyone should be thinking of our big game with a very tough LSU team. I don't like cops anymore than anyone else but I aint going out on the beat with em to get closer. I TRY AND STEER CLEAR of them anyways. Maybe thats what the players should do.Go Vols and BeReal

mikethehistorystudent writes:

Iahvolman makes a good point. The vast majority of our players are African American. One of the purposes of the ride along is for the players to make a connection with the police and that particular officer. Now, suppose I were 18, black, 6'3" and strong as a dern tree trunk. Would I learn from and relate to the police officer better if the officer is....
A) 45 years old, fat, white and bitter after years of police work
or
B) 30, black, and understanding to my social background

This should be a positive experience and an opportunity to make a connection. It shouldn't be a time to force players to feel scarred and out of place for one evening as they're forced to put up with what they see as BS from CDD. I think it's a great idea if approached with considerations.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

Iahvolman makes a good point. The vast majority of our players are African American. One of the purposes of the ride along is for the players to make a connection with the police and that particular officer. Now, suppose I were 18, black, 6'3" and strong as a dern tree trunk. Would I learn from and relate to the police officer better if the officer is....
A) 45 years old, fat, white and bitter after years of police work
or
B) 30, black, and understanding to my social background

This should be a positive experience and an opportunity to make a connection. It shouldn't be a time to force players to feel scarred and out of place for one evening as they're forced to put up with what they see as BS from CDD. I think it's a great idea if approached with considerations.

Very good last paragraph & I agree that we have gone far enough on this subject. Let's go the LSU game & give'em hell.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

This is not good for recruiting .. You know how big of a turn off that is gonna be for so many kids?

Actually, if it is seen as a "turn off" by the wrong kids then I would consider this GREAT for recruiting.

CarlChilders writes:

The basic difference between UT ride alongs and UF ride alongs is that UF charters buses for theirs.

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