MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat and Miami Police Department are continuing to team up on the basketball court in order to advance its initiative of building bridges in the community.
"I went ahead and played pick-up ball with them, shoot with them," officer David Mezadieu said.
He's no stranger to the hoops, or the Little Haiti community where he works now, because he was once a young boy who grew up there. He also knows firsthand how valuable basketball has been in making connections with young people.
"At that time that I was growing up, we really didn't have that and to be able to have this program, it's real big deal," Mezadieu said.
Now the Miami Heat and Miami Police Department are partnering to train officers to build and strengthen relationships in Black and Brown communities with a basketball.
"We come out here and we are humanizing the badge, there's nothing to be afraid of, cops are here only for the sole purpose of keeping you, our children, and our community safe," said Miami Police Chief Manny Morales.
A key part of this is interaction.
"I know sports traditionally speaking have brought people of all colors races and religion together," Alonzo Mourning Jr., Miami Heat Players Program Vice-President told CBS4.
Five hundred officers have already been trained through the Dedication to Community Program, but this Thursday the Heat and Miami Police Department announced that they will facilitate training for all 900 officers on the force.
Wilson is giving 1,000 basketballs to equip each of the officers with a basketball to keep in their car. It could come in hand for a random pick-up game and potentially form a bond.
"I can relate to things that they're going through then and give them advice to never quit," Mezadieu said.
for more features.