INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For seven weeks, campers at Young Men Incorporated got to know IMPD Sgt. Mike Wolley as Brother Mike.
“Ya (Brother Mike) was a cool dude,” camper Korion Jenkins said. “I would spend time with him and we’d be over there in the corner (playing games.)”
Young Men Incorporated is a summer camp founded by Reverend Malachi Walker and teaches kids discipline and character.
Sgt. Wolley went undercover at the camp this year as an adult counselor. He taught lessons and played a variety of games with the kids including foosball, basketball and checkers throughout the summer.
Wolley went through extreme lengths to keep his career as a police officer concealed including driving his personal car to camp every day and then changing into his uniform when he got back to his office.
“It’s been a blessing. It’s been fun,” Wolley said.
However, this week Wolley dropped the bomb to the campers that he was sergeant with IMPD.
“I was speechless, shocked,” camper Jamel Scott said. “I didn’t know what to say. Mind blown!”
“I tell you, that was an overwhelming site to see,” Reverend Malachi Walker said. “And now he revealed himself, the boys see him as still an ordinary guy who is pouring himself out into the boys and cares about them and loves them and that’s what we want to see here.”
Sgt. Wolley’s goal with the undercover assignment was to help bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement and to show the campers that police are people too.
“Law enforcement officers are people. We’re people just like anyone else and we have a lot of the same fears and concerns that they have,” Wolley said. “And that’s really the biggest takeaway is for them the next time they interact with a police officer to know that this guy might be just like Brother Mike. You know, 'he’s probably cool. I don’t’ really have to fear him.'”
“From people's perspective it's like (police officers) come out to find black people and do things, but now I know that that isn’t the case,” camper Jenkins said.
Wolley believes he was just doing his duty and said building relationships with community members is in the job description.
He added in today’s climate those relationships are even more important and it's something IMPD's leadership is encouraging officers to do throughout the department.
“(Police officers) are capable of making mistakes, but in all we are good-hearted people, looking to do the right things at the right times,” Wolley said. “So that’s extremely important, especially to know in this climate, to know that law enforcement is just Brother Mike in a uniform.”