Deputies tak a bath at the Kitsap County Fair
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:02 AM
"As 4-H kids primed Arabian horses and smoky barbecues filled the air, Deputy John Loftus climbed above a dunk tank filled with frigid water.The chance to sink a deputy at this year's Kitsap County Fair cost $2 for three balls and $3 for five, but a reticent crowd edged from the tank Aug. 22. To get things going, Deputy Mike Kleinfelter dropped $2 pooled from on-looking deputies and hurled the first ball. With a clank and a whooshing splash, Loftus sank.His white, dunk-a-cop t-shirt dripping, Loftus climbed out and perched back on the seat. Another clank, and Kleinfelter dropped him again.Loftus is the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge vice president who organized the dunk tank this year to raise money for Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., a national, non-profit organization that provides emotional and financial support for the families of officers killed in the line of duty.Loftus said he had to do some encouraging to get some deputies to sign up to sit in the tank. In addition, he went first.I came up with this brainchild, and I walk it like I talk it, he said. It took some testicular fortitude to get up here, but it goes to a good cause.Loftus, who has been an officer for 14 years, said the thought of being killed in the line of duty is always in the back of his mind. You can't let it hinder what you do, he said. You just try to use your training.He paus-ed to yell, We are now taking credit cards for Kl-einfelter! as his comrade wound up for another lob at the lever.Loftus said he likely would be leveling a payback during Kleinfelter's turn in the tank in the spirit of fraternalism and brotherhood, though he promised to hit the lever with a ball. I play fair, he said.As of Thursday afternoon, the fundraiser had brought in about $700 - which works out to more than 1,000 balls thrown at the deputies. Loftus said he hopes to raise between $1,000 and $1,200. Deputy Aaron Baker climbed into the hot seat next while Loftus padded toward the sunshine in bare feet. Baker taunted on-lookers and his co-workers, offering to front them the money for a turn at the line. I think they're a little scared, he said.Baker said he jumped at the chance to participate in the dunk fundraiser. The money goes to charity, he said simply. It's a small thing to give - two hours at the fair for someone like Wally Davis's family.Davis, a Clallam County Sheriff's deputy, was shot to death earlier this month responding to a domestic violence call.Despite the known risk, he said police work was something he always wanted to do. Yes, I think about it. You try to deal with it with officer safety skills, like making sure people keep their hands out of their pockets, he said.He said the dunk tank provides a good chance for people to see police officers on a less intimidating level. It does give the community the chance to interact with us out of the uniform. People look at us and they don't know what to think. Even though we wear a uniform every day, we have families, too, he said. Kleinfelter's turn in the tank was next. As he dipped his feet in the water, 6-year-old Tara Weatherford ponied up to the kids' line. Her well-aimed toss dropped the seat from under him and he splashed into the bucket.He, too, said he wanted to participate for the families. When we were sworn in, we knew we might get killed. Our families didn't volunteer for that, he said. "