NORTH ADAMS — For some kids, Saturday mornings might be reserved for sleeping in, chowing down on some pancakes or cereal, and watching television.
But this chilly and drizzling spring Saturday, a steady contingent of Colegrove Park Elementary School students ran through the city's streets, trailed by a police cruiser.
But they're not in trouble — the students are participating in what's been dubbed Running with the Law, a weekly program organized by North Adams Police officers that brings willing Colegrove sixth- and seventh-graders out for a morning jog with cops.
"It's a good way to bridge the gap between the youth and our police department," said Officer Anthony Beverly, who, like several of his fellow officers, were clad in running gear instead of the usual uniform and badge.
Now the program, spearheaded by Officer David Lemieux, is expanding Running with the Law into a 5K run and 1 mile walk event on June 10. All proceeds from the event will be given directly to PopCares, a Williamstown-based nonprofit that benefits local families dealing with cancer.
With hopes to attract more than 100 runners to the inaugural event, the officers plan to start the run at Colegrove Park Elementary and take it through the city.
The officers, who are all volunteering to run on their personal time, hope that running can help foster beneficial exercise habits in the young participants.
"It's hard to find the time to be physically fit," Beverly said.
Beyond the physical bonuses, officers say the program creates a positive, lasting connection with the kids. Some of the students have even come to the officers with personal issues, Beverly said.
And while the weekend runs are an obvious example of a police effort to interact with the community, officers say they're making an effort in other ways, as well, whether it is by playing basketball near the Brayton Hill Apartments or spending a few minutes hanging out with the young residents of Mohawk Forest Boulevard.
"If I ask them to come to the school and do anything, they do it," said James Holmes, a sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher who runs with his students and the officers.
Running with the Law began as a pilot program last year scheduled for only five weeks, but worked well enough for everyone involved to stretch it further. Now, North Adams Police are receiving support from Williamstown, Adams, and Pittsfield Police in their efforts to make the 5K a huge event.
Registration is open to all ages for the 5k race and can done online or by paper. The website for registration, which costs $25, is explorenorthadams.com/THINGS-TO-DO/Events/running. Payment must be made out to "Cops Run Road Race" and mailed to the North Adams Police Department at 11 Summer St., North Adams, MA 01247. The first 100 registrants will receive a free T-shirt.
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-344-3979.