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Officers play ball to honor the fallen

An autographed print of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is one of the many donated items to be raffled off during the tournament. Photo courtesy of the Dakota County Sheriff Department.

Law enforcement officers from throughout the state, including Goodhue and Dakota counties, will participate in the annual basketball tournament Saturday, April 8, to raise funds for families of fallen peace officers. The games will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, Minn.

Proceeds this year will go to Minnesota Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors to assist survivors of officers killed in the line of duty. In past years, funds were donated to assist families and help pay for engraving on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

Last year, the teams raised a new record of $6,500 for the family of Aitkin County Deputy Steven Sanders. While the tournament originally started in Dakota County, it continues to grow each year. This year 34 agencies will compete for bragging rights.

Donated items from the Minnesota Vikings, Twins, Lynx, Pepsi, McDonald's and KEEPRS, in addition to other items will be raffled off during the event along with a silent auction and gift tree.

Red Wing Police Department's "Southeast Beasts" are hoping to claim the title they won in 2015. "We've participated the last three years," Police Chief Roger Pohlman said. "We're wishing them all the best. It's for a very good cause."

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie, who helps organize the event, says it's a good way for officers to burn off energy and show their competitive side.

"Rather than sit and do nothing, we chose to do something," he said. "Law enforcement takes care of their survivor families very seriously."

Rosemount and Farmington officers will join with Apple Valley on the Dakota County South team. They have claimed the winning title the past three years.

Admission is free. For more information, contact Deputy Mike Fendrick at 651-775-3177 or michael.fendrick@co.dakota.mn.us. The event also has a Facebook page titled "Ballin in DC Annual Charity Tournament."

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

(651) 301-7874
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