The Derrick Brooks Charities Youth Programs Advisory Committee held the Earl Silas Bridging The Gap event in Sulphur Springs on Saturday, December 9, 2023 at the Springhill Park and Community Center in Sulphur Springs. The annual event is designed to bridge the gap between law enforcement officers and the Sulphur Springs community. Over 300 residents attended the event, including personnel from Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Tampa Fire Rescue.

“I never envisioned what we started would get this big. I moved to Atlanta when I retired but I welcome this drive to Tampa every time you have this event,” said Earl Silas who co-founded the event along with Darrell Daniels of Derrick Brooks Charities. Silas, a former member of the Derrick Brooks Charities Advisory Committee, was a civilian employee of the Tampa Police Department working in the Sulphur Spring community before retiring. “We decided to name the event after him because he was one of our hardest working members,” Daniels said.

The day started with a scavenger hunt involving youth and officers. They had to work as a team to accomplish a goal according to the event Chairperson Jacqueline Coffie-Leeks. “We make sure we always have honest and open table discussions between youth and law enforcement officers because the only way we’ll understand each other is through communication,” Coffie-Leeks said.

The event had something for everyone including a painting contest, Madden game contest, kickball game, and the basketball tournament between the community basketball team, TPD, HCSO, and Tampa Fire Rescue. Tampa Fire Rescue won the tournament and the plaque was awarded to Chief Barbara Tripp. Everyone received food, gift cards and other prizes courtesy of Derrick Brooks Charities, PDQ and Bealls Stores.