DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some North Texas pastors are marking the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by hosting a goodwill basketball game with Dallas police officers.
Sunday afternoon there was diplomacy through sport at the P.C. Cobb Athletic Complex in Dallas.
None of the players wanted to make the game police versus pastors, so both teams had players from both groups. Organizers even held a draft before the game to divide up the teams.
The hope for the Together We Ball event is to build relationships between the faith-based community and the police department, in the wake of Ferguson and other high-profile events involving race relations with law enforcement across the country.
Several pastors reached out to the Dallas Police Department to organize the event.
Dr. Michael Bowie, of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, said he hopes young people watching the game will see police officers in a new light and lay the groundwork for a more trusting relationship.
“I think in the last year things have gotten worse, but I think now America is more conscious that there is a problem with race in America, and I think this event is so important ’cause it shows how the community, the spiritual community and the law enforcement are coming together to make a difference in this problem with race.”
Carlitta Chandler brought her two young grandsons to the game hoping it would be the first step in building trust with the police. “We’re looking at all the different things that are happening in our world with the police and society, and the citizens need to be reassured,” she said.
Adrion Patterson brought his daughter and nephew to watch the game. He says it’s important for them to see a different side of law enforcement. “To see the police officers outside of their uniforms, to see them as regular people ’cause a lot of times you see them just in their uniform. You only see that. You don’t see that they’re a real person when they’re not in uniform.”
Officers admit this past year has sometimes made it difficult to connect with the community. Dallas Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell said, “Current events and stuff like that that’s been going on, you know it’s kind of a challenge for law enforcement right now, but when we have these type of events, it can only improve our relationships.”
A DPD spokesperson said the game is part of an ongoing effort to improve community engagement. The police department also used the game as an opportunity to talk to spectators about officer recruitment and other community outreach topics.
Some of the pastors said they hope the event will be the first of future public forums between police and the community.
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