The Euclid Police Department ditched its uniforms for jerseys, shorts and sneakers Saturday.
The trade-in was part of the department’s second annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament for six youth teams and five adult teams. The tournament was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its 2021 return, an $800 cash prize, giveaways and food were available, and the teams that joined the tournament proved challenging for the police rosters.
“There’s really some impressive basketball being played, ” said Scott Meyer, Chief of Euclid Police.
Euclid police officer Vashon Williams said the event was all part of an effort to bridge a gap in the community.
“In this current environment, with a lot of conflict between police and community, unfortunately we see that people don’t really understand that police are actual human beings,” Williams said. “We’re not robots, we’re out here to help people.”
A 2020 Gallup survey found confidence in police dropped by five points to 48%, compared to 2019, after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. Euclid Police say their hope with the tournament is to let community members know that they too can be a safe space.
It plans to be back in 2022 with more teams and a bigger cash prize, but with the same mission.
“I think it’s really important for our officers and for our youth, our residents to see each other and connect in a human way,” Chief Meyer said.
“We want to just re-energize the community in knowing and reassure them and knowing that we are actually here to help one another,” Williams said.
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