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‘Take Over the Streets’: NYPD officers team up with NBA for community outreach in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN  The NYPD is teaming up with the NBA and Spaulding for a community event called “Take Over the Streets.”

Officers from Brooklyn North Patrol Borough were armed with basketballs and hoops. The goal: To foster good community relations, one dunk at a time. They pulled up to four locations on Monday. At each one, they would close off a street and play pickup basketball with residents in the neighborhood.

The first location was at Bushwick Avenue and Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick. The next, at Herzl Street and Livonia Avenue in Brownsville. Followed by the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy. The final stop was in East New York at Dumont Avenue and Shepherd Avenue.

“It feels good to be a part of something with the police, that we get to know them and have fun with them,” said Duane Foskey, 11, of Brownsville.

“I was playing basketball on the basketball court over there, and then police came and said they have stuff down here, so me and my mom came over,” Demarco Gonzalez, 11, said.

Demarco’s mom, Nicole, says her faith in the police is renewed after Monday's event. “It's nice to have them together with the community, have them out here with us together as one. We can actually trust them out here in Brownsville so, it did a lot for us today.”

The NYPD wants these neighborhoods to know they’re here for them, particularly for kids to know they can count on the police.

Cops in uniform dribbled and took shots alongside the residents they protect every day.

“We’re coming out to the community, bringing basketball hoops, a bunch of basketballs and connect with the kids, play with the kids, have a good time, encourage them to do sports and other positive things for the summer and stay out of trouble," Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, commanding officer of Brooklyn North said. "Neighborhood policing is a philosophy that the police have embraced. We are out here trying to embrace these kids, connect with our community. Of course, if you bring two hoops and 30 balls, we connect really fast. The kids come out, Hype dancers out here dancing for them, we are having a great time today.”

The Bed-Stuy location was especially poignant. Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues is the same spot where three years ago, two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were gunned down at that very corner. Today, this tragic location was the spot of an uplifting moment between police and civilians.

Spaulding donated the basketballs. Members of the Brooklyn Nets Hype dance team were on hand. One officer took the opportunity to show off his moves.

“Never in my dreams we'd have this big a turnout or big an impact. Hopefully, we come out here we show the community we have a lasting impact," Officer Eric Morales said. "I was kind of in the moment that's when the Brooklyn Nets Hype men were out there I saw an opportunity to break out my moves."

Asst. Chief Maddrey says basketball is the perfect thing to bring the community together.

“It’s a sport in Brooklyn North, the kids love basketball, the guys, the girls, young, old, they all love basketball. You go to any of our parks, the basketball courts are full. So we'll be in full uniform and play having a great time, slapping hands, getting to now know the young men and women out there, getting to know their names and building that trust,” said Maddrey.