It looks like basketball and sounds like basketball, but this game is a bridge; a way for the Fort Myers Police Department to reach out to kids in the community.
“It’s an awesome feeling, getting them to respect us and learn what we’re trying to do,” said Fort Myers Police Athletic League (PAL) Coordinator Keith White. “Help them, be right there for you when they need you.”
The goal is to get kids off the streets and on the court, showing them that behind the bade, officers like hoops too.
Gil Benitez is running point on the program. “If we can have something for them to do in the city, naturally, we’ll have crime go down, especially with the juvenile side of that because a lot of times juveniles commit crimes,” she said.
Chief Derrick Diggs believes these games and other community outreach programs are key to the police department’s push to make the city safer. He says it’s working.
“They’re not just here to arrest you, but I can talk to you,” said Keith. “I can actually shoot a basketball with you, I can teach you boxing. I can be a mentor. I mean all of those opportunities are there now before the kids get into those avenues where they’re getting in trouble.”
The Fort Myers PAL offers a variety of teams. If you’d like more information or to get your child involved, click here.