As part of the the Promise Zone Initiative in Milwaukee, a plan that helps residents find jobs and resources and ensures public safety, police officers are getting more involved with the community. In one of the city’s Promise Zones, officers are using basketball as a tool to connect with young residents.
That area is near 35th and Custer, where kids play basketball in the street despite one day hearing gun shots a short distance away. Officers hope the initiative can not only bring a sense of safety to residents, but also help build trust and relationships.
“These kids live in real problems and play in real problems, so if we can alleviate a little bit of concern for an hour or two while we’re here playing basketball, that’s what it’s all about,” Officer Joseph Spingola told FOX6.
When he first asked to play basketball with the neighborhood kids, Spingola said they all looked at each other like they were looking for a hidden camera, but once he made the first-three pointer, everything was good.
“Because they play basketball with us like, mostly every day, and I get used to it,” 11-year-old Karlton Knight said.
Twenty-two year old Martrell Lewis said having the officers there brings a sense of security.
“I feel safe, actually,” he said. “I won’t lie. I feel safe.”