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Exclusive: NYPD Using $4M Seized From Drug Trafficking Busts To Renovate Basketball Courts At NYCHA Developments

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- From drug money to basketball courts -- this year, the NYPD is doing something different with the assets seized from drug dealers.

CBS2's Ali Bauman got an exclusive look at how police are re-investing some of their funds.

Queensbridge Houses have a brand new basketball court.

"What do you think of the new court?" Bauman asked 10-year-old Troy Evans.

"It's fire!" Troy said.

The Queensbridge Houses basketball court in June 2021 (Credit: CBS2)

But back in June, the court was unrecognizable.

"The ground's cracked, weeds coming up, the rim is off the side, and one of the residents said, 'What do you think the message is to the people who live here?'" said Chauncey Parker, NYPD deputy commissioner for community partnerships.

The housing authority doesn't exactly have the budget to spruce them up.

"We really rely on our city partners for this type of investment," said Sideya Sherman, NYCHA's executive vice president of community engagement and partnerships.

So this summer, the NYPD is renovating basketball courts at 15 city housing developments.

"This is their playground. These basketball courts is their playground," said Deputy Inspector Luis Colon, with housing bureau special projects.

Colon is overseeing the project.

"From a kid that grew up in the Bronx, in the south Bronx, and actually grew up in one of the housing developments in the Bronx, I think it's important that we do improve community relations," he said.

Police are paying for the renovations with $4 million seized from drug trafficking busts in the past year.

"That normally would've been used for police equipment, police resources, and we're re-investing it into our children," said David Barrere, NYPD chief of housing.

"I don't think that this use of asset forfeiture has ever been used by any police department anywhere on this scale," Parker said.

Queensbridge is the country's largest housing development with more than 7,000 residents.

Just last month, it was at the center of a major gang bust.

"This is an opportunity not only to play basketball, but it's a chance for the community to come together," Sherman said.

"When this is done and you have a kid come out and see the final product, what do you hope is the message that kid gets when he sees this final product?" Bauman asked Colon.

"Sometimes I get teary eyed with this, I would love for that kid to say, not so much to say, 'Hey, listen, this is what the cops did for me,' but to say somebody out there really loves us and wants to do that for us," Colon said.

The newly renovated Queensbridge Houses basketball court in August 2021 (Credit: CBS2)

Now that the court is complete...

"It makes me feel honored to know that everybody has gone the extra measure to try to keep our community safe," said Stephanie Chauncey, PSA 9 Community Council President.

Ten-year-old Troy is already picking teams.

"We got new rims, we got colors. We also got family and friends to play with. Like him, he's my friend. I like to play with him and he's my friend, so we play," he said.

On a fresh court that's all theirs.


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