Clutching a Nerf gun, University of Minnesota police Dispatch Officer Jeff Lessard sprinted through an open path in the University of Minnesota Field House.
He didn’t make it to the other side, as someone on the opposing team shot him down with foam bullets.
The school’s police department teamed up with student group Humans vs Zombies for a game of Nerf-based capture the flag Wednesday as one of UMPD’s first efforts in creating closer connections with students.
UMPD reached out to Humans vs Zombies last fall to propose a game involving both groups, Humans vs Zombies moderator and civil engineering junior Josh Breid said.
Breid said the two settled on capture the flag because it would be an easy game to learn.
“It’s a good opportunity to know officers as people and not the guys sitting on street corners,” he said.
Police barriers and barrels stood at either end of the Field House, marking each team’s home base. If a player was shot, they ran to their team’s barrel to “respawn,” Breid said.
Teams of six to eight players faced off for seven 10-minute games, he said, and about 120 students participated.
Team “Vampire Hunter” planned to sprint straight for the flag, said civil engineering graduate Michael Knudson.
But team member Sgt. Tom Bohrer suggested the fastest member make a run for it, with the rest of the Vampire Hunters trailing behind protectively.
The teams used white boards with a bird’s-eye-view drawing of the field to strategize.
Knudson scored the first point of the night for the Vampire Hunters.
“Whenever they rushed the flag, we managed to take them all out,” he said. “When they respawned, I was able to take them out.”
After the game, Vampire Hunter and animal sciences graduate Jennifer Hagen said she’d feel more comfortable speaking with a UMPD officer.
Humans vs Zombies and UMPD hope to meet this week to discuss Wednesday’s game and plan for more in the future, Breid said.