Police building relationships through basketball

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Bonding over basketball.  Friday night a group of Cobb County Police Officers took on some teens on the court.  It's a win-win situation.

The teens are part of the Police Athletic League Midnight basketball program in Cobb County.  It was the final game when they got the chance to play against the cops.  But it's more than just a basketball game. It's about forming bonds, developing relationships and showing the kids, police are on their side. 

"It gives us an opportunity to engage with the kids in a different setting, we get to know each other personally," said Cobb County Police Deputy Chief Stuart VanHoozer.

At a time when we are seeing more negativity and violence toward Law Enforcement across the country, Deputy Chief Stuart VanHoozer says building relationships in the community, and starting with the children, is more important than ever. 

"We've been making strides through these programs and have put an emphasis on it especially in the past year or so to bridge the gap in community," said Deputy Chief VanHoozer.

Terrell English says his perception of officers has changed since he started playing in the league. 

"I used to think officers were, well, you know how people think they are.  But now I see them in a much more positive light," said English.

His mom says he's seen a big change in him, and even his teacher has noticed.  "She sent me a text yesterday and says he has totally done a turnaround and his attitude has changed for the better," said Lakisha English. 

She attributes the change to what happens on the basketball court and knows there's much more going on that just playing ball. 

As part of the program, the teens typically hear from a speaker who shares a story or two and helps guide them.  Cobb County's PAL also has football, track, martial arts, soccer, baseball, and stepping.