DENVER (CBS4) – In an effort to increase trust in local law enforcement, a local basketball camp hosted it’s 11th annual event, which is coached in part by police.
Alvertis Simmons hosted the camp at Denver East High School. The free two-week camp had dozens of children in attendance. The age groups ranged from elementary school kids to high school students.
Denver Police attend the camp, help coach, and even play with those who signed up.
“Basketball is a common ground, it brings everybody together,” Simmons told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “The police are afraid of us. We are certainly afraid of them. But, we are mending fences.”
Some officers gave moral support, while others played with the children. One officer even handed out more than $100 total, to kids who could make shots on their first try.
“When I was younger, I (saw) people saying cops are bad. Then I come to the camp, and they are not all bad. They are nice,” said Timothy Austin, a camp attendee.
“Once we get on the basketball court, a lot of barriers come down,” said Tevonnon Jones, a Denver Police Officer.
“(The kids) are going to be our future leaders, so it is good we can mend those bridges right now,” said Chris Matlock, a Denver Police Officer.
“Getting out with the kids, it is something we can all get out and have fun with each other, talk trash with each other,” Jones said. “They see our faces. They get more familiar with who we are. They get more comfortable with coming to us, and talking to us about things that are important.”
On Friday, the police planned to play the kids in a game of basketball.
“I’m not giving any wins away,” Matlock said.
However, when asked, the camp kids all said they would beat the officers.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.