A basketball game at Zanewood Recreation Center pitted kids against Brooklyn Park cops. It was a competitive game that goes beyond what happened on the court. Cops hoped to show the kids who is really behind the badges they wear.
"These are community members, these police officers are here to build relationships with these kids," said Deputy Chief Mark Bruley. "And there's no better example of doing that then when these kids are engaged in a basketball game with them."
But that doesn't mean you take it easy on the court, and nobody did. Both sides worked hard to show what they could do.
"We always want to win, nobody wants to be a loser," said Bruley. "This is actually a rematch going on tonight. The first time the police officers did win but rumor has it the kids came back with some ringers, some new players so it should be interesting."
It was interesting with quick offense on both sides, and defenses that scrambled for every loose ball.
"I'm just trying to get the 'W'," said D.J. Jackson, a player for the teens' team. He says a game like this makes a difference to the kids.
"It shows that they care mostly. I'm glad they're out here working with us to improve us as young men and young women, but they're active in our community also."
Jackson says he respects them for doing something they don't have to do. It makes a difference to the cops when they're on the job, too.
"Interactions are better when a police officer knows the first name of a kid or even better when a kid knows the name of a police officer," said Bruley. "That interaction goes well and we know that. When there's mutual respect, things always go better."
The basketball games are part of an outreach effort by the police department that began in 2007.
The teens and police officers played two games with the cops winning by three points in the first game and the teens winning 73 to 66 in the second.
Mike Johnson, reporting
April 6, 2017