Kickball, dancing all in a day’s work

Kickball, dancing all in a day’s work

Cumberland Police Officer Shanna Loveless, seen holding her infant son, Henry, and the hand of her older son Gavin, works in the Valley Falls section of town. Building relationships with residents in town, she said, is one of her favorite parts of the job. (Breeze photo by Brittany Ballantyne)
Cumberland Police Officer Loveless enjoys getting out of the cruiser and into the community

CUMBERLAND – Stepping outside of the police cruiser and into the community is one of Officer Shanna Loveless’ favorite parts of the job.

Loveless, nicknamed “Lovey” by her colleagues, who she refers to as her brothers and sisters, is a familiar face to many in the Valley Falls area of town, where she plays kickball, basketball and dances with children in the neighborhood.

“I think they really love to kick our butts in sports,” the Cumberland police officer said of the kids she spends time with in town.

She’ll put her best game forward, but she said with a smile that the children are usually the winning contenders.

Loveless, a Cranston resident, turns her police vehicle lights on for them and lets them take a look inside the cruiser while she answers their curious questions.

“We always want kids to know that they can come to us, (and) not be afraid of us. Don’t run away from the police – we’re good, we want you to come to us,” she said.

Loveless said she doesn’t just enjoy shooting hoops with kids in town and playing sports with them. She also learns a lot by talking with people in the community, and hearing their concerns, which can range from problem areas in Cumberland where drivers tend to speed to residents’ struggles with overcoming drug addiction.

She’ll check in to make sure people with a history of substance abuse are receiving methadone, or staying away from alcohol and drugs. She’ll also keep in touch with elderly folks in town to make sure they’re receiving help they need.

“We want to see people get on the right path,” Loveless said.

When officers reach out to the community and familiarize themselves with its residents, “You learn more. People are comfortable around you. They talk to you,” she said.

Some shifts involve arrests, Loveless said, but other days she takes on other roles and acts as a counselor, plumber, or basketball teammate.

Sometimes, she said, she’s simply there for someone who needs a person to talk to and ask for advice.

Before she became an officer in Cumberland, Loveless explained, she worked for Tides Family Services, an agency that works with at-risk youth.

She served there from May 2005 until March 2009, when she started her role with the Cumberland Police Department.

While working for Tides, she’d visit homes multiple times a day, and was the supervisor of the programs in Pawtucket, Central Falls and parts of Cumberland, she said, that aimed to provide outreach and counseling to at-risk youth.

“They’re great kids. They’ve had a rough life,” Loveless said, thinking back to her experience working for the program.

She still keeps in touch with children she worked with during her time at Tides, she said, and seeing them become successful in their adult lives is fulfilling.

Her mission, she said, like most police officers, is to protect and serve. It’s a privilege, she said, to do that in Cumberland.

“We try as much as we can to be proactive, interact with the community,” she said.

Loveless also includes the animals in the neighborhood – she’s got a stash of Milk-Bone dog treats in her cruiser.

“I love my job,” she said.

“It’s fun. Every day I go to work, and it’s something completely different.”