Chicago police take on CPS students in chess challenge

Chicago Proud
CHICAGO (WLS) -- At the home of the White Sox, they weren't playing ball on Wednesday. Instead, they were playing chess.

But this was no ordinary tournament. It was a chance for Chicago Public School students to take on Chicago Police officers in a special cops and kids chess challenge.

"The purpose is to use chess as a vehicle to engage police officers and students and build positive relationships," said Sylvia Nelson Jordan, of CPS.

The Cops and Kids program is comprised of 140 students from 14 CPS schools, and about 40 officers from several districts.

Along with building critical thinking skills, chess has also boosted the self-confidence of many of the kids, who found themselves teaching the officers the game, and often beating them.

It's also a chance for the student to be the mentor.

"A lot of these students have actually kicked my butt a few times so they've picked up some things since I've been playing," Officer Eric Davis said.

It's a fact not lost on Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

"I know that you kids are giving my officers the business in this chess tournament. I'm not particularly happy with that, but I want you to know that we're gonna come back," said Johnson.

While Johnson took a moment to brush up on his chess skills, Officer Ray Tracy and high school senior Martina Harris sat down to a game.

For them, this program is bridging the gap between the police and the community.

"They learn I'm a regular person. I learn about their home life. It's easier to talk to somebody when you have that type of relationship," said Tracy.

"I always see them on the job or riding down the street, so it's always nice to get another opportunity to see them in a different light," said Harris.

CPS has plans to add more schools to the Cops and Kids Chess Challenge for next year. The hope is to strengthen the relationships that were built over a board game.
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