Curtis High School was the host to the “Cops & Kids” championship basketball game held on Thursday. The goal of the event – unite the NYPD and the community.
According to SILive, NYPD police officers and officials teamed up with high school students to participate in this season’s game. Held for several years, the Police Athletic League “Cops & Kids” program is designed to improve community relations between the NYPD and the Staten Island youth.
“It’s more than basketball,” said Officer Lorraine Marin of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. “Our goal is to keep the kids off the streets and keep their minds in the right direction.”
Marin helps coordinate the program developed for 14-19 year olds. Beginning in February, the teens sign up to participate in the basketball program that runs until mid-April.
By interacting with officers, teenagers learn that cops are real people too. “If you get to interact with cops, you really get a different feel for them, like not all cops are the same,” said 18-year-old Godfrey.
The championship game consisted of two teams comprised of both youth and officers. On Thursday, the 121st Precinct (green team) and the 122nd Precinct (blue team) faced off for the challenge. In the end, the blue team won 58-30, after two 15 minute halves.
“Being a cop from Staten Island and bringing smiles to kids’ faces while playing basketball is an amazing feeling,” said Sean Mondello, a first-year NYPD officer playing for the blue team. “I’m living a dream.”
Sgt. Joseph Alohan, of the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn and captain of the green team, called the experience “awesome” because of how it positively influences the way police officers are perceived by youth. “Kids get to see us on a whole different level,” he said. “I think that is very important.”
“There’s obviously a big gap between the youth and police department recently,” said Patrol Borough Staten Island Chief Rodney Harrison, who is second-in-command on Staten Island. “We’re not robots. It’s important for the community to see we’re normal. And I think it’s really good for both sides to be a part of this together. What matters most is getting police and teens to identify with one another as human beings.”