Local Event Promotes Healthy Relationships with Police Officers
A police office walks with fellow basketball players at Jammin’ Hoops Fest on Thursday, July 7. Jammin’ Hoops Fest aims to build relationships between the community and police officers. Photo by Queila Omena, The Vista.
The Oklahoma City Police Department’s gang prevention program hosted Jammin’ Hoops Fest on Thursday, July 7 at the Northeast Recreation Center. The weekly late night basketball outreach has been successful for the last seven years, promoting healthy relationships between police officers and the community.
The event is dedicated to the community, highlighting positive character development, as well as connecting community youth with caring officers.
“This event is for officers to engage with young people and talk about character. It’s really important specially in this day and time for kids in our community to know that we care about them. All lives matter to us. Black lives matter to us. We want to find ways to give back and show that we not only we want to protect them but share time with them,” said Lieutenant Wayland Cubit.
Police offers, volunteers and community partners gathered together for a special day full of life and happiness. Even though hotdogs, snow cones and popcorn were given to attendees, the special touch of the event were the life lessons taught by officers and a motivational speech over perseverance.
“I think it’s important [to have this event] because so much negativity is pushed on these kids and looking for an outlet can lead you to a gang environment, because the best people at building relationships are gangs. They protect you, they take care of you, they love you, so if they can come in here and get a relationship with us and get mentors, it can replace the need for that gang relationship,” Hillary Stevenson, volunteer at Jammin’ Hoops fest, said.
The event was strategic for young adults that are highest at risk for gang activities in the state of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association (OGIA) stated gang problems have spread throughout Midwest City, Del City, Norman, Edmond and other cities.
“The gang problem has spread into every one of these communities. We have over 100 different gangs sets in the area with an estimated gang population of 8,000,” the OGIA said.
OGIA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to share gang intelligence among law enforcement members and educate the public about the violences related with gangs.
With violence problems arising, the community should be encouraged to spread love and partner with non-profit organizations that encourage the same.
“In my Facebook feed there is a lot of hurting. There is a lot of pain today specifically, so I think this is a great opportunity for people that are home feeling they can’t do anything and feel helpless and hopeless. Come out and actually make a difference in the life of a child, and build relationships with police officers that protect our community and are here to serve,” Stevenson said.
Jammin’ Hoop Fest provides meals and snacks for attendees and their families, as well as entertainment and prices. The awards given in these types of activities involve prizes for heart and characters. Bikes and Kevin Durant’s shoes were also given to the winners.
“For next year we want this to grow bigger, having more people involved. It takes a lot of donations and volunteer hours, but is worthy at the end of the day. It’s fantastic,” Lieutenant Cubit said.
For more information over Jammin’ Hoops Fest, contact the Oklahoma City Police Department.