Chicago kids connect with police officers at MLK Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court Tournament

Christian Piekos Image
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Kids connect with police officers at MLK weekend basketball tournament
Kids connected with Chicago Police Department officers a basketball tournament in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dribbling together and working as a team, kids from Chicago beat the arctic temperatures and kept warm on the basketball court ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

It was the first time in its 10-year history that the MLK Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court Tournament took the court inside the Chicago Police Training Academy.

"It's all about bridging the gap with CPD, and bridging the gap with the community, and keeping the kids off the streets and give them something positive to do," said Larry Daniels with Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court. "Let them know that CPD, all cops are not bad. That's the main objective, especially on Martin Luther King weekend, to show them it doesn't matter what your color is."

The kids are making connections with Chicago's finest on and off the court on Sunday.

"To have the young kids here at the academy, to enjoy what we have to offer at the academy, and we wanted them to see what we do here as well," said Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Senora Ben.

Ben said getting to hang out with the city's youth in this manner is a rare opportunity, one that's important to developing trust and making future officers.

"They see us, me, being a female on the job. They are very inquisitive as to why and how did you become police, and what steps did you take to become the police," Ben said.

Sixth-grader Chernin Clark plays for the Chicago Demons.

"It's just fun. I just like playing basketball," Clark said. "I think it's just good for the community."

They are staying warm and building bridges one point at a time.