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Tournament with Law Enforcement a Success

The First Annual Pickup the Ball vs. Law Enforcement Basketball Tournament was a big success, bringing together The Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Myers Police Department, and Pickup the Ball Teammates for a full day of games showing the community that good relationships between the community and law enforcement can be built.

The results: The Lee County Sheriff’s Office took the tournament, with Pickup the Ball’s “Q Crossover” Team coming in second.  the FMPD came in third place, while Pickup the Ball’s “Elite” Team brought up the rear.  Despite losses, the Teammates had a great time, and the community showed up for a great time with free food, face painting, music and more.

The most important thing accomplished was the continued bridging of gaps between the city’s police force and the young men and women in the community.  All participants showed that, while they were playing on different sides of the court, both the community and law enforcement can come together to accomplish something and build better relationships by seeing each other as people rather than stereotypes.

From NBC2 News in Fort Myers:

“A program called “Pick Up the Ball” is using sports as a way to try and end violence in the community.  It comes after seven people were shot in four different shootings recently in Fort Myers.  The crime wave even brought in Governor Rick Scott earlier this week to talk about the issue.  And Saturday, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott asked the community to pick up a ball and come together to stop violence.

“Basketball is something that got me away from all that pain and all that stuff on my mind,” said Cornelius Ritchie, who participated in the event. “And all that negativity I left it back and bought myself to the court.”

The Pick Up the Ball program targets at-risk neighborhoods and uses basketball to transform and inspire communities like Fort Myers where violence is becoming too common.

Fort Myers Police Officer Gil Benitez says there are few things that bring people together like basketball.

“We play basketball and we are normal people, you know, they can definitely relate to that a lot better. Sometimes they see the badge and they get scared. Sports has always been the ground breaker for developing relationships,” Benitez said.

Organizers hope to continue this event and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community’s youth.

For the News-Press article, click here.

For the NBC2 News video, click here.

For the WINK News video, click here.

For the Fox4 News video, click here.

 

 

 

 

October 5, 2015 | Case Studies, Events, From the Players, News, Testimonials | 0

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