Durham Police Athletic League kicks off youth basketball season
Posted February 1
Durham, N.C. — Police in Durham are trying to build better relationships with young children, and that effort took center stage Saturday as the Police Athletic League kicked off another youth basketball season at courts around the city.
The league, which is operated, staffed and funded by the Durham Police Department, began in 2010 as a crime prevention initiative in northeast-central Durham.
Since then, it has become a way for police officers who volunteer as coaches to show kids that their jobs are much more than simply taking people to jail.
"It's a good program," parent Maynard Torain, Jr. said. "It's keeping everyone off the streets. The kids have something to do."
Torain said his son, 10-year-old Trenten, wants to be a cop.
"Most kids that I know of have a real negative attitude about the police department, but my son, seeing that he has this program, he actually wants to be a cop," Torain said.
Trenten is one of about 300 elementary school kids who take part in the program.
"I want to stop that bad guy stuff," Trenten said.
Officer Erwin Baker said he believes the program represents "community policing at its finest."
"They see us on TV. They see us taking people to jail, writing citations. That is only a small part of our job," Baker said. "Most of our job involves helping people."
The Police Athletic League's programs are held year round and include basketball, baseball and soccer. Programs and uniforms are free for participants, and officers, police non-sworn staff, physical education teachers and parents help coach the teams.