Battle of the Badges honors fallen officer

The 11th annual Battle of the Badges was held Sunday, Oct. 12 at Yager Stadium.

This year’s game was special, though.

The Battle of the Badges is a friendly flag football game held once a year between the Topeka Fire Department and the Topeka Police Department to support Special Olympic teams, who provided cheerleaders for the game.

The Battle is eight-man flag football consisting of four 15-minute quarters. The game drew a crowd not only of family and friends of the players, but also of supporters of these men in uniform from throughout the community.

The game was sponsored by more than 45 businesses and organizations.

Both teams sported impressive athletes, the game having been filled with long runs and deep passes.

Despite the fire departments efforts, though, the Topeka Police Department dominated with a final score of 26-12, but this year it wasn’t just the Special Olympics that the servicemen had come to support.

After the game clock hit zero, the stadium grew quiet as the police department gathered at midfield.

Cpl. Jason Harwood, who was a member of the Topeka Police Department for 15 years, was fatally shot Sept. 7 while on duty.

After the Battle of the Badges game, TPD retired his jersey, giving it to Harwood’s wife, Lori, and two sons, Tyler and Lawson.

It was a very emotional moment for many of the people watching in silenceas Jason’s jersey was handed over to Lori Harwood.

After hugs, the announcer broke the silence.

“Jersey No. 22 has been retired from the Battle of the Badges.”