NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Thursday, a hero was laid to rest in Norfolk. And several organizations in the city are working to carry on his legacy in the community.
This week, his wife, three children, and brothers and sisters in blue have honored the life of Norfolk Police Officer Brian Jones, who was killed in the line of duty Friday night.
Many remember the numerous ways Jones affected lives throughout the community he served, even through baseball.
“We want our kids in our program to see us in a different light, and see us in a way where they feel they can approach us, it’s extremely important,” Officer Ali Williams said.
Officer Jones was part of the program called Badges for Baseball, which is run in partnership with the Norfolk Police Department, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Norfolk State University. It’s all about having an impact on the city’s youth.
“They see us now as friends, instead of just the bad guy in blue or the boogy man,” Officer Antonio Barrera said.
The program not only helps Norfolk’s youth see police in a different way, but officers say when they see people rooting for them to do well, it also helps the kids see themselves differently.
“We ask them if they want to be police officers or doctors or lawyers, and they understand that if they break the law, it’s going to ruin it,” Officer Barrera said.
“They think twice when it comes to doing something wrong, so if that’s a deterrent, that means that it’s definitely working,” Officer Williams said.
They’re teaching life lessons to keep kids from striking out far beyond the field. They’re mentors. And one mentor in particular was on their minds Thursday.
“Awesome, awesome officer, awesome father, awesome husband,” Officer Williams said. “All the kids would look at him and say, ‘wow, you’re big.'”
Baseball isn’t a celebrated sport in the inner city, but his colleagues say Officer Brian Jones was right there to help kids learn.
“His height and his gentle demeanor with kids, him being a father himself, broke the ice with so many of the kids,” Officer Williams said.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, we are that village,” Officer Barrera said.
And that village was made stronger with Officer Jones help fostering dreams.
“We will always remember him,” Officer Williams said. “He will always be with us. His family is in our prayers. Even the kids, they will remember Officer Jones forever.”
The Badges For Baseball program partnered with the RBI program through Parks and Rec and Norfolk State three years ago. It’s paid for through the Police Athletic League Fund, the Cal Ripken Senior Foundation, and the City of Norfolk.