Dumas, TX – A police officer who volunteered as a little league baseball coach was asked to leave the field on game day because she was coaching in her police uniform while wearing her duty weapon.
The incident occurred just after 6 pm on May 17th when the girls of the San Antonio Armadillos should have been warming up for their game, an angry parent with a child on the team told Blue Lives Matter.
“I arrived late to the game and noticed that my daughter’s team were in the dugout while the other team was still warming up. The game was supposed to start at 6pm due to a double header that night and it was weird that they still had not started with it being roughly 6:20ish by then,” Orlando Camacho told Blue Lives Matter in an email.
Camacho said he asked the other parents what was going on and was told that the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) umpires had refused to allow the Armadillos’ coach on the field because she was wearing her police uniform and gun in violation of an association rule that said you couldn’t have a handgun on the field.
“Coach Alisha,” as her players and their parents call her, is actually Dumas Police Officer Alisha Sladek.
Officer Sladek has volunteered her time to coach the team of 1st through 5th Grade girls.
“Someone told me that they would not allow our coach to coach because she has her gun on her and they wanted her to put her gun in her [police vehicle],” Camacho further explained.
Camacho told Blue Lives Matter that Officer Sladek has coached at least four games in full uniform so far this season.
He also said that he had the impression that because game times rotated and can be unpredictable, their coach was sometimes giving up her lunch breaks to coach on days when she was working.
“Asking an officer to disarm while in uniform is absolutely unbelievable,” Camacho said.
He said that parents approached the USSSA official – State Umpire-In-Charge Bo Roscoe – and asked to see the written rules that said no handguns were on permitted on the game field.
But Roscoe didn’t have anything to show them.
“The official told us that his verbal word was good enough and did not have to provide any kind of documentation,” Camacho said.
Officer Sladek and Roscoe engaged in a heated discussion and were unable to reach a compromise.
“The USSSA would not allow Coach Alisha to coach that night unless she stored her firearm in her unit, which she refused to do,” Camacho told Blue Lives Matter.
He said that after her argument with Roscoe, they also banned the very popular coach from the dugout and the entire playing field area so she had to watch the game from the outskirts of the playing field by the parking lot.
Camacho called the move blatant disrespect for a law enforcement and said most of the parents were outraged about the treatment their coach had gotten.
Initially, the Dumas City League took heat because people thought the no-gun rule was their decision, but Officer Sladek posted a message to the Dumas Little League Facebook page to sort it out.
She did not respond to an interview request from Blue Lives Matter.
It was a few day later, when word of the incident had spread throughout the small Texas baseball community, that parents in Dumas learned it wasn’t the first time that Roscoe had refused to let a law enforcement officer coach in uniform.
In fact, the local USSSA official had banned another uniformed law enforcement officer from coaching just 40 miles away in Dalhart in the first week of May.
A Texas Highway Patrol officer who coaches boys nine through 12 years old for the Rangers team was told that, after three years of coaching in uniform, he can no longer step onto the field while wearing his duty weapon, according to Dalhart Youth League board member Tiffany Akin.
Akin told Blue Lives Matter that the officer has volunteered for two seasons as an assistant coach and just finished his first season as a head coach.
She said that he’s popular with the players and parents and that he also has children who play on other teams in the league, so he’s regularly in the stands in his Texas State Highway Patrol uniform.
“I feel safe knowing he’s out there and he’s armed. My husband and I both like that,” Akin said. Her husband, Alex Akin, is also a league board member in Dalhart.
She said the umpires expressed concern that the officer could fall down and his gun would go off, or that his holster might be struck by a baseball, causing the gun to fire. And she said she told them that was ridiculous.
Akin said she called the other members of the Dalhart Youth League’s board and sought their opinions on the matter of armed, uniformed officers coaching.
“And everyone agreed we support him. We’re not going to disarm him,” she told Blue Lives Matter. “So I thought it was over with.”
But it wasn’t.
A few days later, two of the umpires grabbed the officer while he was at the field watching his daughter’s softball game and took him into the clubhouse for a discussion, Akin told Blue Lives Matter.
“They told him that that he can’t wear a gun and next time he does, his team is going to forfeit the game,” she said.
“They also said that if it happens again, USSSA will not let him coach anymore,” Akins said.
She said the officer didn’t question the existence of the rule that was being quoted, but the parents did.
“I haven’t found anything in USSSA that says that anybody can’t have a gun on the field,” Akin told Blue Lives Matter.
“They were told that there’s a rule that doesn’t exist,” she explained. “They didn’t demand verification of the rule – we did.”
Akin said it turned out that USSSA may have had a no handguns on the field rule at one time, but that rule does not exist anymore and hasn’t for a long time.
But Roscoe told them that he had spoken to somebody at USSSA’s national headquarters in Florida and that the person had agreed there should be a rule against it and that he should enforce the ban on the field in Texas, she said.
“They can’t trump state law,” Akins said, outraged. “We think they overstepped their bounds by threatening the officer – that is not their call, it’s a league call. And our league has voted to fully support the officer.”
This season is over for that officer anyway because the Rangers have played their last game, but the Dalhart Youth League board is planning to nail down USSSA on the matter before they agree to continue working with them.
“If USSSA really adopts that rule, a lot of leagues will drop out of USSSA,” Akins said. She said most leagues only affiliate with USSSA for the insurance coverage and that there are lots of other options.
Blue Lives Matter contacted USSSA’s national headquarters via phone and email but had received no response by publication time.