COLUMBUS (WCMH) – In an effort to connect with the community, nine Columbus Police officers played a game of basketball with students at South High School on Thursday. It was charity game, with proceeds going right back to the school.
Sgt. James Fuqua said it’s a way to improve relationships between officers and citizens.
Boys on the school’s team were surprised how well the cops played.
“Oh, it’s real exciting,” said senior captain Lamont Broomfield. “I didn’t expect them to come out and playing like that!”
“We’re all a little bit older, so we’re going to try out best not to hurt ourselves,” Fuqua said.
He said one of the biggest complaints officers get is not being accessible enough to the community.
“A lot of people always say, ‘You’re always in your cruiser. You’re always driving by, but we don’t really know you.’ So, one of the easiest ways to get to know people is to get out into the community and actually get active,” said Fuqua.
He said they’re working hard to improve their image to the community, especially teens.
“There’s a lot of things going on in the community here between the police and the citizens that maybe aren’t the best in terms of community relations so, I felt it was important for us to come down here and show our support for not only the students but other people that live in the neighborhood,” Fuqua said. “It’s important for officers to relate to the young people and see that we’re actually human.”
And so far, it seems to be working.
“It really shows a lot. They’re showing not all of them are the same and they actually interact with the kids,” said Broomfield.
“It builds a closer relationship, so I can be able to come to them and it won’t be awkward because I know we were on the court together, playing basketball,” said junior basketball player Jeremiah Green.
Sgt. Fuqua said they plan to continue the program at other schools within the city.