Lower Merion police play basketball with local youth to strengthen community bond
LOWER MERION, Pa. - Police in Montgomery County took off their badges and laced up their sneakers Friday night to play a friendly game of basketball with some of the local youth.
For the eight straight year, the Race for Peace has organized the basketball game as a good-willed effort to strengthen community ties between police and the youngsters.
The organization and police both hope that seeing each other on the court will increase the chances they can work together in public.
"It gives the youth an opportunity to trust the police a little bit more," Quron Banks from Race for Peace said. "There's been some friction in the community, and it bridges gaps between those two, so we can pretty much work together on all the things we need to get done and accomplish great things for our youth."
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Friday's basketball game took place at the Kobe Bryant gym in Upper Merion. Lt. Shawn Clifford, a 21-year veteran of the Lower Merion Police Department, believes the "bonding experience" has a long lasting effect with the youth in the community.
"A lot of times we have interactions with people, it’s usually in a professional capacity, a lot of times we’re dealing with people on their worse days," Lt. Clifford said. "When we have an opportunity to come out here and take the uniform off and have a bonding experience where it’s not so much us doing our job., just hanging out playing sports, I think it has a longer lasting effect."