Montco police department faces ire over annual 'Run From The Cops' fundraiser

The event name has since been changed due to public outcry.

Cherri Gregg
September 17, 2018 - 4:30 pm

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Whitpain Township Police Department is facing some online backlash over the name of its annual 5K fundraiser, which some Facebook users have reported as hate speech.

"In our current climate, I just don't find it acceptable," said Corinne Degeiso, a Montgomery County mother. She was outraged when a black friend told her about the police department's "Run From The Cops 5K" fundraiser. The tagline for the event: "It's your chance to run from the cops without the consequences."

"This is tone deaf at best, but to me, it just felt like blatant racism," she said. "It's just not something that should be acceptable from police or any other association."

Degeiso — who is white — posted a strong message on the department's Facebook page for the event, as did several others.

"I know that people have a problem with this, but I also know that people are still fearful about speaking their mind," said Degeiso. "It's 2018 and things are not right in this country, so I have to use my privilege in the best way that I can, which means sometimes I have to use my voice."

Shannon Robinson — who is black and lives in Maryland — reported the police department's page to Facebook.

"It was almost as if they were mocking the black community and it just made no sense to me," she added. "There's just too many things happening for people to be silent."

Robinson noted that the recent shooting of a black man in his own home by an off-duty cop in Dallas, as well as repeated instances of unarmed black and brown people being shot, prompted her outrage.

"Whereas you may not have said anything a year or two ago," said Robinson, "you have to speak up."

Whitpain police have since changed the name to "Run With The Cops 5K." 

Andrea Lawful-Sanders, who lives in Philadelphia, said the change came because people spoke out.

"At least they know people are talking about it and paying attention," she said.

The Run from the Cops 5K, however, has been named just that in previous years, unknown to the women who brought the connotation to light. There are also Run from the Cops fundraiser runs in other states, including in Wisconsin and Kentucky.

A 2014 event of the same name was nixed in Tempe, Arizona

The Whitpain Police Association said in a statement, "For over 20 years, the Police Association has worked to benefit the local community. The 5k race is part of those efforts. To eliminate any concerns, within eight hours of the first comment on Facebook, the name of the race was changed to 'Run With The Cops.' That change will be reflected in all promotional material."