SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Police Department is continuing to reach out from the Public Safety Building in downtown Spokane, connecting with kids on basketball courts and now they're looking to connect with the community in the South Perry Business District as well.
Kids playing basketball at Liberty Park isn't anything new, but it's a bit unusual to find cops on the same court.
"I like it because there are cops that make me feel safe here, and you get to have fun with your friends," Akeyse Rice said.
Akeyse is participating in the police activity league, a summer basketball league that pairs cops and community leaders with kids.
"In this day and age, a lot of youth just see law enforcement as a negative action and they see police arresting people and we want to give an idea of a different aspect," Spokane police Lt. Tracie Meidl said.
With each pep talk officers are breaking down barriers and showing these kids they might have a badge but they're real people.
"We do have youth here that have been involved in a negative way, we are here to not judge them but to break that cycle and create long-term lasting relationships," Meidl said.
The police department is not only looking to connect with kids on the court, but also reach out to the community as well. To that end, the department is looking to open up a South Spokane Precinct with the goal of getting even more officers into the community.
"We are making a big difference, we have already started the precinct program by already starting with our captains and neighbor conditions officers now we want to put them in physical buildings," Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said.
They don't have an official location pinned down, but police say the South Perry District is a place they'd like to open up shop, and down at The Shop, employees are eating up the idea.
"If it's more localized precincts that are in small communities like this you start to feel a connection to the others and know where the office is, I think that's an effective force," Michael Schomburg said.
The question of whether or not the police get to open a new precinct along South Perry will all come down to funding.
"There is still on-going negotiations relative to real estate, making sure the budget will support the precinct," Straub explained.
The community policing concept seems to be working as overall across Spokane crime is down 10 percent. Officers hope a new South Spokane Precinct and the activity league drop that percentage even more.
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