February 15, 2006
Court-side seats at a basketball game are usually only for a lucky few, but Wednesday night some local kids got to sit in those seats. Ten local children, along with Charlottesville police officers, headed over to U Hall to watch a basketball game. It was part of a special program called "Cops and Kids."
A limousine picked the kids up just before dark, and they were more than ready to head off to the game. Officers say Wednesday night was a chance to interact with some of the younger members of the community.
"It's a great opportunity for us to get out of our blues and get out and socialize with these kids in a nice, happy atmosphere," said Officer Dwayne Jones.
This is the fifth year for Cops and Kids. It's a charity that combines the Charlottesville Police Department and UVA's Athletic Department.
"Tonight is about building relationships between police officers and the community. The children, our future, is standing right here before us and that's what it's about," said Officer Joe Brown.
The school donates the tickets, and the officers donate their time. Building a relationship with the community is the main goal, but having fun is a big part of the evening, too.
"They're looking forward to probably just screaming at the teams, and eating, and having drinks, and wearing these shirts together," added Brown.
That's exactly what they did. They sat right on the court during warm-ups and even got to meet some of the players. The kids say they look forward to this each year.
"Every year they plan to take us somewhere so they take us to a basketball game every year," said Ricardo Ward, one of the kids watching the game.
"Well, we'll spend some time with the cops in our community because they do lots of fun stuff with us--they bring us to basketball games, and we drove in a limo tonight," said Jackie Davis, another one of the kids at U. Hall.
The officers also meet with the kids a couple of times a week for breakfast. They say the interaction between the kids and the cops really goes beyond just this one night each year. The kids in the program range in age from 8-years-old to 11.