Softball tournament hopes to bring cops and addicts together in Camden

- A recovery softball tournament, an event for awareness and unity brought people together Friday in Camden.

We’re used to seeing police officers patrolling the streets and people battling addiction in unfortunate circumstances like Anthony Figueroa describes.

“I overdosed one time. Seven hours later I was back doing the same thing again.”

But more people believe if you want to rebuild communities, break the cycle and build trust, you need to see them in situations where they better get to know the community.

A recovery softball tournament brought people together Friday in Camden. It was an awareness and unity event. But dig deeper and Anthony Figueroa believes you see why these events are so important.

“It’s funny, I’ve been making a joke all day long, I tell people I used to run from the cops, now I’m running with the cops.”

Number 30, Anthony Figueroa “Figs” is in recovery himself and was on a team with the Pine Hill Chief of Police and a Camden County freeholder among others. The odd grouping they say leads to necessary communication.

“It’s a whole different story when you’re in addiction and you look at cops you judge them, but when I see them I want them to remember my face.  I want them to say that’s the guy Fig we play softball with.”

Number 21, Freeholder Bill Moen has his own personal experiences with addiction

“I have a brother who’s a recovering addict who’s now probably five or six years clean.”

He knows that interacting with people in recovery is an experience that benefits everyone trying to help.

“I think this is obvious but it’s much easier for people to understand as a policy maker the dynamic and all the angles of the issue.”

And finally, number 44 is Pine Hill Police Chief Christopher Winters. Police Chief is his job but he was clear that his mission included being a part of teams like this.

“When they realize literally that we’re all on the same field…all on the same field, that’s the only way we’ll get through this.”

The symbolism of a softball game worked well.  It didn’t matter how you got to the game you’re on the same team now and if we want to win we have to work together. For Goodness Sake.

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