Basketball games unite police with Dover community

DOVER— It was all smiles and high fives, as police officers and local area youths participated in a series of basketball games during a community event Thursday night.

There was food and live music, as about 100 people cheered on the officers and the residents during the basketball games.

Dover councilmen and Mayor Robin Christiansen were in attendance as well.

The event was hosted by the Dover Police Department in partnership with the Central Delaware branch of the NAACP aimed at building both trust and a strong relationship with law enforcement and residents.

An Aug. 28 police-involved shooting that left a wounded man facing felony charges amplified mistrust and hostility.

The general area of the shooting in the first block of South New Street at Loockerman and Reed streets was closed, as officers played a series of basketball games with the neighborhood kids.

“I’m encouraged and excited about the future, said NAACP Central Delaware President La Mar Gunn.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but we had a wonderful turnout. Everyone came out and had a good time. This is a positive that we can work together,” Mr. Gunn said.

There were three older teams that ranged from 15-18 and two younger teams that ranged from 12-15.

Davione Robinson, a sophomore at Caesar Rodney High School said it was fun playing against the police officers.

“I think this was a great idea,” Davione said. “With everything that’s been going on it’s good to have the cops out here playing with us.”

Dover Police cadets Logan Spicer and Thomas Rivera said it’s important to bridge the gap between residents and police officers in the community.

“I think events like these are very important,” Mr. Spicer said. “With everything going on in the media, law enforcement sometimes get a bad rap.

“We’re not here to hurt anyone. We’re here to connect with the community and make it a safer place for residents.”

Mr. Spicer said he believes future events will help build comradery between the two groups.

“I really believe this event will help the community,” Mr. Spicer said. “They know our name on a first-name basis and we know their names as well.

“That’s going to help in the future when we see them and we can talk to them and see how their day is going. That will help us the long run.”

Mr. Rivera loved the experience.

“I didn’t expect so many people to come out,” Mr. Rivera said. “But I love it. “Everyone loves basketball, so I thought it was a great idea. If I knew this many people were going to be here I would have practiced a little bit more.”

Mr. Gunn even joined in on the action and played a game as well.

“It’s encouraging for these young men and woman to see these officers and city officials,” Mr. Gunn said.

“This is only the beginning. ‘It’s only going to grow from here.”


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