Ashland Police building trust one basket at a time

Posted at 11:05 PM, Mar 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-24 00:39:37-04

ASHLAND, Va. (WTVR) - At the Ashland YMCA they have their own March Madness going on: it’s cops vs. kids and the game is more than just competition on the court.

Off the streets and on the court.  That’s how the Ashland Police Department thinks outside the box when it comes to fighting crime.

"It's been real positive interaction,” said Sgt. Doug Jenks.   “It lets police get to know who these kids are and when they get a little older, we develop relationships, and they sometimes help us in our jobs."

And the kids can’t seem to get enough, as more than 40 turned up Friday night to get their chance to go one-on-one with the officers. "I get to show off my skills to all of my friends" said 14-year-old Malik Camp.  For Camp, posting up or dropping a jumper on an officer is something he looks forward to.  At the same time though, he says a game or two here, helps him recognize that he’s playing for the same team.  "You play with these guys and it helps build trust,” he said.

For the first hour, young children practiced their shot.  Then, as the buzzer sounded, the teens hit the hardwood and got ready for two hours of hoops versus the guys with the handcuffs and one reporter, who clearly had no handles, as an inbound pass smacked him right in the face.

"The YMCA is about youth development,” said Charlotte Dean, the communications director for the Greater Richmond YMCA.  “It's one of our key areas, and this event is a perfect community event,"  she added.

Believe it or not, the cops-versus-kids program started in the early 90's , and now with the help from the Y, things are picking back up again.  The Ashland Police Department hopes to hold a night like Friday once a month for the foreseeable future.