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CMPD's Frisbee football program lands officers on IR

Since November the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has been holding an Ultimate Frisbee football tournament and allowed on-duty officers to play. The program is meant to encourage officers' to get fit and boost morale, but the games have had some unintended, but not completely unforeseen consequences. WFAE's Lisa Miller reports. It's Thursday, about 11:30 a.m. at Clanton Pavilion. CMPD's University division and Investigative Unit are engaged in a game of Ultimate Frisbee football. The Investigative Unit is leading, 12-2. The first team to 15 wins. "We only need three more," yells an officer with the Investigative Unit, which ended up winning, No one walked away limping, but other games have taken a toll. And since some of these players are on duty, the City of Charlotte has had to reach into its pockets to take care of injuries. Since November, there have been eight injury claims filed with the city. Here's a sample of the claims filed with the City's Risk Management Services Division: "While playing Ultimate Frisbee, injured left knee, ACL reconstruction." (While) throwing the Frisbee, felt a pop in right elbow suffering ruptured bicep tendon." "While playing Ultimate Frisbee was struck in the face bruising face/eye." The City doesn't know how much these claims cost since they're so recent. But the manager of the city's Risk Management Services division, Dan Pliszka, says he advised CMPD against holding the tournament. The reason: Since officers are on duty. they can file claims with the city for any Frisbee football injuries. Police Chief Rodney Monroe would not speak to WFAE. Instead, his press officer released a statement saying the games never hurt the department's ability to respond to the community. The statement says the 17-game tournament has so far accomplished its goals of boosting morale and improving officers' fitness. CMPD Captain Jeff Estes coaches the Central Division team. He says the benefits of the program outweigh the cost. "You can call over to Risk Management and to the claims and say in dollar amounts, 'Here's what it costs.' It's a little harder to quantify all the variables from the positive standpoint," he says. Estes says CMPD has held other athletic events, like flag football games and runs, but they haven't attracted as many employees. About 180 people participate in Ultimate Frisbee football, although only about 25 people play in a game. "These folks go in day in and day out and literally put their lives on the line for the citizens out here and to allow them to get out and blow off a little steam and get in shape at the same time seems to be a pretty good deal," Estes says. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was unaware of the tournament until contacted by WFAE. He says the police department is now reviewing the program.