WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — There was a big-league basketball game in the Brass City Friday night, with Waterbury Police taking on the NAACP Youth Council team. But the event was about much more than just basketball.
“We are going to build up relationships with the youth, between the youth in our community and the community as a whole, with the police officers, and show them they are just like us. They are not all that different,” said Amari Brantley of the NAACP Youth Council. “They are human, we are human.”
Officer Devin Ridenhour said it is extremely important to work with kids when they are younger and allow them to get to know the officers as people.
“…you build that bond with them and they trust you, so when you see them older, you have a better relationship with them,” Ridenhour said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
News 8 asked Kevin Clark of the NAACP what he has seen change over the years.
“The growth in the kids,” Clark said. “They are not afraid of the cops. They want to communicate with the cops, they want to build a relationship with the cops and this is one of the ways we do it.”
Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo emphasized the significance of trust.
“Having some trust with the community, building on the trust and having open communication and the ability to have a conversation. Especially when crime occurs, it’s super important to the police department. Really that’s how we solve crime. We solve it with the assistance of people in the community,” Spagnolo said.
Waterbury Police Activity League is hosting a toy drive at Barnes & Noble on Union Street Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. They are accepting new and unwrapped toys. Gifts will be distributed to the community on the basketball court closer to Christmas time.