WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Area police forces are now goading residents to run from them ... but only if they are raising money for Special Olympics.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is putting on its first "Run from the Cops" 5K race, in which runners are encouraged to dress up like criminals (think Hamburglar) and run away from the police in the middle of the night.
At 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, LETR hopes to see hundreds of people in their best burglar costumes ready to participate the road race.
"There will be no actual running from the police," Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby said on Wednesday. "But come out and have a good time, be imaginative and see if you are fast enough to run from the cops."
The race is another new event LETR has organized to raise money for the Special Olympics. Cop on Top (in which officers sit on the roof of the Pittsfield Walmart) runs each year but after Derby and Officer John Bassi attended a recent conference, they have brought in new ideas to "get more people involved in the Special Olympics."
Earlier this year, they organized the first ever Polar Plunge in Pittsfield. But the officers kept hearing that they needed to do something further north. With two Division III collegiate athletics programs in North County, this event seemed to fit since the division already has a partnership with the Special Olympics.
Being the first, the officers don't know what to expect but they are hoping Spring Street shops will open during the race and area high schools and colleges were invited to attend. As for police, Cheshire, Adams, North Adams, Williamstown and Hinsdale officers have already said they'd attend as well members of the Berkshire County sheriff's department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"I am expecting the majority of high schools to participate," Derby said. "I am trying to gear it toward a town event."
Winners will receive cash prizes and others could win gym memberships. By Wednesday, the group had already raised $1,250.
Runners can register online or by mailing the form, which has been altered to look like a criminal sheet, to Derby at the Pittsfield Police Department. Registration forms can be found at the Police Department, Berkshire Nautilus, Berkshire West or at the North Adams Police Department.
The race steps off at midnight but the "festivities" will begin at 11 p.m. There will be coffee and doughnuts available because, Derby said, of course, "we are cops."